Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Bigness of Smallness

We tend to be impressed with Big.  Not so much with Small or Little.  We like Big ideas, are challenged to have Big dreams,  are impressed with the Big Man.  At a fast food joint we’re asked if we want to Super Size our meal; no one has ever asked if we wanted to “Go Small.”  In my world, there are plenty of books, seminars, and conferences on how to grow a church larger.  I’ve never seen one on how to make your church smaller.  (I think we can all figure that one out.)  And we want a Big God, right?  Who wants a Small God?  No, all the problems in the world are Big problems, so we need a Big God.  I don’t think I could pray to a Small God. 
     But we know that our God must be a Big God, because the universe he created is a Big universe.  We all know that, but just to wrap our minds around it—or to blow our minds, whichever comes first—here’s an example.  Science writer David Blatner, in a new book, Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity, says that there are approximately—because who has the time to actually count?—70 thousand million, million, million stars in the universe.   I have no idea how big that is.  It’s like a seventy-thousand million trillions.  70,000 quintillion.  7 x 1016.  So, about the size of our national debt, and we know how Big that is!
That’s a lot of stars.  That’s Big.  Big.  Impressive.
And yet….Blatner says that there are that many molecules in just ten drops of water.  Ten.  Drops of water.  Normal, regular-sized drops of water.  Ten drops of water doesn’t even constitute a spill.  If there’s ten drops of water on the floor, you have to debate whether it’s worth the cost of a paper towel to wipe them up.  They’ll evaporate in a few minutes anyway, so…
(For the record, in case my wife reads this—which is highly unlikely, unless someone rats me out, which is highly likely—I wipe up every spill, even if it’s only ten drops of water.  I never walk away to let them evaporate or have the beagle lick them up.  Because that would be wrong.  Someone could slip and put their eye out.)
Ten drops of water have 70,000 million, million, million molecules.  And every molecule is made up of smaller stuff like atoms, protons, and neutrons, which adds a few zeroes to the Bigness of the Smallness.  And protons are made up of quarks, which besides just being a fun word to say, adds even more Bigness to the Smallness.  And don’t even  get me started with the leptons and bosons.  Seriously, don’t get me started because I have no idea what I'm talking about.  I just know they are seriously Small.
And if you think about it, every one of those stars is composed of molecules, atoms, quarks and other really Small things.  Everything Big is really just a whole lotta Small all bunched together.
So as impressive as Big can be, Small is actually more impressive.  You can have Small without the Big, but you can’t have the Big without the Small.  There’s more Small than there is Big. 
Small is Bigger than Big.
Which makes the universe even more impressive, and God even more awesome.
From the beginning humans have looked up at the vastness of the sky and concluded that something this Big had to be created by something even Bigger.
And now we can look in a microscope (or in the mirror) and realize that God can be found, perhaps even more impressively, in Small things.

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