Little Things (4)
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 2 Corinthians 3.7-9
Anyone who has ever stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon, inebriating their souls with that stupefying vista, knows why this unspeakable wonder is not called “The Pretty Good Canyon.”
The Grand Canyon evokes a presence and power, larger and more lavish and looming than just that embodied in those strata of stone and that careening river far below. While doubtless few acknowledge that presence as God, yet a sense of transcendence, wonder, mystery and even fear is every visitor’s common experience.
Believers know this to be an encounter with the glory of God. Creation declares the Being and presence of God, though every man may refuse to acknowledge Him (Rom. 1.18-21). People may deny the God of such glory, but they cannot mistake His presence, just as those terrified Israelites could neither mistake nor bear the radiance of God’s glory, emanating from the face of Moses (cf. Ex. 34.29-35).
The glory of God is the presence of God suddenly making itself known, and not only in things grandiose and immense. As Gerard Manley Hopkins put it (“God’s Grandeur”), the glorious presence of God flames out from ordinary things, like the shining surface of shook foil. It gathers to a sudden greatness like the ooze of oil crushed. Unexpectedly, there it is. It seizes our attention, trips a switch in our soul, and sends our thoughts outward and upward into the realm of wonder.
The glory of God on Moses’ face was a small thing, an occasional flaming-forth on the visage of one man among a million. Yet the people of God saw it, and they did not mistake its meaning. They could not bear it, and they could not deny it. Those little episodes of radiance spoke the presence and power of God to the heart of every person, and caused them to long for more of His promised blessings.
The disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration were similarly affected as the glory of God enveloped, transformed, and irradiated from Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 17.1-8). So enthralled were they by the sight, that all other desires dissipated in a moment, and they wanted only to remain there with the Lord in His glory.
Every day, everywhere
The glory of God is all around us. God is making Himself and His presence known in everyday creatures, great and small. The glory of God strobes in that flash of sunlight reflected from a single drop of dew on a fresh cut blade of grass.
The glory of God is the thrill of wonder, provoked when your eye catches that of a nuthatch at the feeder or a chipmunk just outside your glass door, and you are catapulted into a mysterious micro-universe of knowing and unknowing.
The glory of God calls out from the atoms of everyday objects, like this table at which I’m writing, bearing witness to strength, wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness that can be easily taken for granted.
Hopkins elsewhere wrote that the glory of God can be seen in the nameless faces and gestures of ordinary people. It bursts to life like a broken perfume bottle in the tender patience of a carney, as he awaits the decision of an autistic child, whether to strap on his ride, and in the heartfelt word of affirmation, gratitude, and praise shared by the child’s grandmother, who saw Jesus in that nameless carney’s love.
The heavens declare the glory of God, wrote David, who shuddered before their vastness (Ps. 19.1-4). At the same time, we hear God passing in autumn leaves, gently rustled and whispering of His power over winds and breezes, times and seasons, death and life. All creation sings the glory of God, and we who know Him can, by the power of His indwelling Spirit, see that glory, know that glory, and enter that glory far more than Moses or those children of Israel ever knew.
We who know God and discern His glory in things small and great, can magnify the glory of God so that others encounter it as well. Indeed, we should expect to glorify Him in all the little and big things of our lives. As in the parable of the talents, if we are faithful to glorify Him in little things – like eating and drinking and everything else associated with taking or sharing a meal (1 Cor. 10.31) – then He will enable us to glorify Him in more and greater things as well.
All the little things of your life, the things with which you fill up the moments of time entrusted to you, have rich potential for magnifying the glory of God. Believers are like docents in an art museum: We see more than most folks, understand better than they what the Creator intends, and are able to point out details of beauty, wonder, goodness, and truth that others simply overlook. We’re also like the dew on the morning grass, able to refresh, delight, and renew the people around us with a word fitly spoken, a smile sincerely flashed, an attentive ear, a surprising gesture of appreciation, an offer to help, or a gift from out of the blue. Little things that become much when God and His glory are in them.
Your life is worth living, every moment of the day and in all its details, because the God Who bedazzles visitors to the Grand Canyon and gawkers at the night sky, can sparkle and flame and ooze and beckon from all the little things you do and say.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it;
If you go in Jesus’ Name.
1. How do you understand the glory of God? In what ways do you experience His glory?
2. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 3.12-18. To what should the glory of God lead us?
3. What can you do to become more aware of, sensitive to, and engaged with the glory of God around you?
Next steps – Preparation: Begin keeping a journal or notebook of moments and situations in which you experience the glory of God. Share them with people you know.
T. M. Moore
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This week’s study is part 1 of a 3-part series, The Small Stuff. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 1, “Little Things.” Why not line up some friends to study through all three parts of this series?
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Kittie L. Suffield, “Little is Much”