July 19, 1994
Along the edge of Alaska’s Cook Inlet, across from the city of Kenai, stands mountains without foothills. One of them, Mount Redoubt, rises out of the edge of the sea to over 10,100 feet. Its outline is almost a perfect isosceles triangle. No matter where you stand in Kenai, 60 miles across the inlet, Redoubt looms huge in the west. The mountain is awesome.
The Canadian Rockies also fill viewers with wonder. We climb several thousand feet driving through the foothills to their base and are still amazed when we look up at their height. We feel so small.
It reminds me of what an ant might feel like at a picnic. Imagine how large a piece of cheese would seem, or an apple, or a turkey drumstick!
Even more, think how a human would seem to an ant? We are so large, the insect would probably not really understand our size. It might notice heat, feel some vibrations, and sense movement yet would fail to grasp that something far more complex than itself had staked a claim on the picnic area.
Comparing ourselves with mountains and ants is not too difficult. To most of us, whatever ants do is not a big deal either. Some hot-climate varieties make homes several feet high and filled with intricate tunnels, but we know one bulldozer can easily level them, just as one toe can deal with a pesky picnic variety.
Mountains are not so easily leveled. Sometimes they blow their own top (as did Redoubt a few years ago), but the best we humans can do is carve a few roads along their sides or bore a tunnel through part of them. We compare to mountains about the same way an ant compares to us.
Although a mountain’s size may awe us, someone will rise to the challenge and at least identify its rock, vegetation and wildlife. Others will climb the thing just to prove “big” is something they can conquer.
What about the bigness of God? Is He like a mountain in that we can figure out His shape, measure His distance, and evaluate His make-up? Can we conquer Him to prove we can handle Him?
Understanding the size of God may be more like the task of the picnic ant. God’s bigness is beyond our vision. We cannot back far enough away to get Him in perspective. We cannot understand His immensity. He is not only unseen but His size is beyond our comprehension.
Part of the reason we cannot contain Him with our senses is that God, according to Scripture, is everywhere. Theologians use the word “omnipresent.” It simply means God exists in all places. Maybe we can move away from Him spiritually, but physically, we cannot get away from God (Psalm 139).
There are several ways we can sense God is present, even if He is too “big” to see. For one thing, His activity can be seen both in the grandeur of His creation (from a mountain to a butterfly’s wing) and in the ways He changes human attitudes (from sin-loving to repentance).
God’s presence is also seen through answered prayer. We can rely on Him to be an “ever-present help in time of trouble” because He promises to hear and respond to those who trust Him.
Finally, God tells us He is with us. Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Just as “the Spirit testifies to our Spirit that we are God’s children,” He often gives us a definite sense of His nearness.
An ant at our picnic may be threatened by our size and we will certainly not welcome the ant, but don’t let His size fool you: God does not chase anyone away from Himself.