What God loves
God’s world reveals God.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” — Psalm 19:1
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” — Romans 1:19–20
By looking at the created world we can see what God loves. For example, God loves round things. Moons, planets, pizza, bubbles, and the wheel. Approximately seven billion 22-inch-in-circumference spheres are bobbling around the Earth at this moment. God loves water. Oceans, seas, rivers, rain, mist, and spit. God loves colors. Fall leaves, fruit baskets, painted deserts, and human skin, hair, eyes, and clothes.
Many of us long for significance, excitement, recognition, adventure, and meaning. We want to be or do something extraordinary or radical for the good of the world and the glory of God. But when we look at our lives, all we see is normal. Incremental, if any, progress. Familiar roads and faces. Unseen labor. It’s all rather un-exciting. We’d do well to look at God’s world and see what he loves.
God loves small. Look to the ant, or the atom. Or the dust specks floating in the sunbeams. Or plankton, bacteria, cells, sand, gerbils, babies, or the high technology of the inner ear. The earth is the Lord’s, even the small things thereof. God delights in them all.
God loves obscure. Three quarters of the world is covered by water. Under that water, in the ocean deeps, are kingdoms ruled by the beasts that swim — schools, colonies, warriors, lovers. And only God sees their majesty. Epic wars are being fought by the dust mites in your carpet, and you snore above them unaware of both the carnage and the courage. Birds sing and no one applauds. Lions roar and no one bows. Galaxies exist that no eye has seen. But God sees, and smiles.
God loves slow. Every glacier was once some winter’s first snowfall. Every diamond started out as a lump of coal. Strong oaks were once saplings a kid could pluck up with two fingers. God made turtles, not just hares. You’ll get a better pot roast in a crock-pot than in a microwave. God first promised a Messiah in Genesis 3, but Jesus was not born until Matthew 1. God is daily telling a story that is thousands of years old, with no end in sight. Like a Sunday walk or a good conversation, God is not in a hurry.
So if your work is small and seemingly insignificant, know that God loves it and is interested. It is part of the story he is telling. Tens of thousands of years later and he has yet to grow tired of grass—how much more so is he interested in the labor of your hands for these lo and few years. If you are toiling in obscurity in some small town or remote country, your labors are not in vain. God sees, and smiles. If your work is painfully slow — such that seeing fruit or finality is but a pipe dream — God delights in it like he delights in a 70-year marriage.
Sure, God also loves big, visible, and fast. Look to the Rockies, the sun, and the cheetah. But we are not all cheetahs.
Don’t give up on the small, obscure, and slow. Don’t despise the days of diapers, dishes, spanking, early morning prayers, after-hours work, doing the right thing, refusing to tell a lie, helping out a neighbor, going the extra mile even though the boss will never notice, rejoicing in the success of someone else, or telling your friend (again) about Jesus.
God loves and delights in these things. The dust mites tell me so.
*Note: This post is a riff off a remark I heard N.D. Wilson make in a talk that I listened to online, but for the life of me cannot remember where. If I had to guess it was in this one.