We make God small sometimes. We don’t mean to. I mean in our heads we know He is big and massive. We know He created the Rockies and Switzerland and the manatee. We know His power and grace stretches across the fabric of history but we still find ways to shrink Him down.
It happens for a lot of reasons, but one is because doubt is easier than faith. Doubt springs forth with natural momentum, faith takes effort. Even when good things happen to me, I immediately start waiting for the other shoe to drop. I treat good things like teenagers treat quiet scenes in horror movies. I walk into the good and say, “Hello, is anyone there? It’s good in here, too good.” And then I wait for something horrible to come back into the picture. Because I doubt God can sustain the good in my life. He is not big enough. I do it constantly with this site. When friends ask me about it or the book I always say, “It’s going well but we’ll see.” The phrase “we’ll see” is my way of saying, “good things don’t last. God is not big enough to do the things I would like to do. He is small.”
But then something happened.
An MIT professor made God bigger for me. That wasn’t his intention. He was trying to stretch the Bose brand. They make Wave Radios and other stereo equipment. He was frustrated that writers like me were not taking any chances with the advertising. He was disappointed that we were not taking any risks and the writing we created was flat, lifeless and boring.
His biggest issue was that we were making his brand, the very soul of his company, very, very small. And he decided to explain the problem in a simple way that ultimately changed how I look at God.
Dr. Bose said that his brand was like a soccer field. It was big and wide, with large expanses for us to creatively play around in. And he wanted us to. He wanted us to explore every inch of that large field. But, when he communicated his vision to his second in command, that person got a little scared. They didn’t want to go out of bounds, to stumble passed the boundaries and get in trouble with Dr. Bose, so they drew the lines for the soccer field a few feet smaller than Dr. Bose had. That way, if they went over their own lines, they were still a few feet from Dr. Bose’s. And when the third in command got his instructions from the second in command, she was afraid to step over the second in command’s boundaries, so she drew the lines a little smaller. And then the fourth in command drew them smaller. And the fifth in command did the same thing and so on and so on until the brand finally got to me.
By the time I got it, the brand had been whittled to about the size of a postage stamp, which left me very little room to be creative. What I would end up writing was a disappointment to Dr. Bose because I clearly hadn’t explored his whole soccer field. I was stuck in a little one foot by one foot tuft of grass trying my best, but suffocating nonetheless under the rules and regulations that had been layered on by each person that had touched the brand.
I don’t think it’s crazy to draw a parallel with the way we treat God sometimes. I think that it’s easy to read the Bible, get a little nervous and pull the reins in on life. I think sometimes the picture we hand to people of God’s love and forgiveness has been downsized by our concern to stay within the bounds, versus play within the field. Our pastor gets a small field from his seminary professor who got a small field from their Board of Directors who got a small field from the Board of Trustees who got a small field from someone else and by the time you get it on a Sunday morning during service, God is microscopic.
It’s easy to do, and you can see it with things like the verse that says “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” We start to think that he didn’t really mean nothing. I mean “nothing” is so huge. We should rein that in a little so that we don’t mess up. So let’s add some conditions to nothing. And all sins are equal but are they really? We should probably put some small conditions around that one too. Now that I think of it, 10 commandments was a good start, but it’s not enough. Let’s add a few. Let’s follow the 30 commandments. And the whole, “love God, love yourself, love your neighbor” thing can’t really be the most important things we need to do. That sounds too simple. Let’s expand that a little.
And on and on until we’ve shrunk God with conditions and expectations. We’ve taken his grandness and washed him in the hot water of fear and logic until he’s manageable and wee.
God is bigger than we can grasp. He has a soccer field the size of the universe for us to explore. He wants us to play. I want us to play. I want run through every inch of his soccer field. I hope you want to run too.
Next time someone tries to make him small, remember the lesson from Dr. Bose and refuse to accept a postage stamp God.