“When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
– Psalm 8:3-4
When I was an angst ridden teen, plagued by the daily grind of school, homework, and high school social status (of which I had none), there were few things that could calm me. One of these things happened on the deck of my house a few nights a week.
When the house was asleep, I would crawl out of bed and make my way to the deck. We lived on a mountain (or hill, depending on where you are from), and from here, the valley below was utterly open to view. It was calming to be so far above the valley filled with lights and cars on the distant highway. I was separated from it all. The fact of being high up, though, had another effect: You had an expansive view of the night sky. With the thousands of white pin-pricks in the blackness of the night, I felt incredibly small. This phenomenon is still one of my most favorite parts of my childhood home: a place of calm and small, of warmth and isolation.
On nights like these, often cloud-packed and always massive, the sky wrapped me both in a sense of smallness and a sense of warmth. Like David, when humanity looks at the universe unfolding above them, the thought of smallness easily invades the mind. Millions of stars, as far as we can see, fill our eyes. Far-away worlds of roaring gas and penetrating light look in on our small planet and put us in our place. The universe is a big playground, and I tend to make “me” the center of it all. I make my days, my friendships, and my marriage all about my happiness.
All the while, the stars look down and laugh. They know there is so much more than our trip to McDonalds or our grade on a test. They know there is so much more than our flat tire, our selfish attitude, or our daily chores. “What is man that you are mindful of Him, and the son of man that you care for him?” This insinuates that by virtue of our smallness, God shouldn’t care! He shouldn’t concern Himself with the little, two-legged creatures who philosophize about their universe when the universe, in all of its ancient-ness and grand-ness, rages on around them. We are small, and it would do me well if I could remember it once in a while.
But I am also wrapped in warmth and calm. Though He shouldn’t care, He absolutely does. Though He created the heavens, He also created you and me. He fashioned our bodies down to the smallest atom, and He knows us perfectly. He knows about our eye color, and He is aware of our deepest thoughts. He knows our insecurities and our flaws. And He cares. He is mindful of us, of you and me. Even as the galaxies spin and creation breathes, His eye is especially given to the affairs of you and me, to the day in and day out grind that we trudge through. He delights in our joys, and He hurts in our sufferings. We naturally “get” a God who creates all and then stays up there somewhere, ruling and governing with His almighty hand, but what really shocks us is that God would come down to care and be with us.
But that’s what Jesus is all about: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14). The Invisible One became Visible. The flesh-less God took on a human garment. He knows our temptations (Hebrews 4:15), and walks with us even now through every circumstance we encounter. From splinters to family deaths, from joyous marriages and good meals with friends to job losses and financial hardships, He is the God who is both Up There and Down Here.
Up on my parents’ deck, I’m reminded of my finite-ness and His infinite-ness, but I’m also more aware of His nearness, of His kindness, of His ever-watchful eye on the affairs of little people like you and me. With one hand God sustains the quasars and tilt of the earth, and with the other He sustains, loves, and cares for us.