Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little is Big

It has been a long time since I've written anything. I think part of that is because life has been too full to have time to reflect, and at this point I can't bring myself to use the blog as a place to write about trivia. Moreover, there hasn't seemed to be anything particularly gripping that I have thought anyone would especially want to hear, or that I was prepared to share with a wide audience.

Until last Wednesday.

A little background information. I have started riding my bike to work on any and every day that I don't have to have a car to drive across the city for something later in the day. I leave early with work clothes in my backpack, a towel, some instant oatmeal, and toiletries; ride the 6.3 miles to church; shower in a small bathroom shower tucked away in the church facilities; and make and eat my breakfast, all before work hours begin. The route, thanks to some great city planners here in the Kansas City metro area, follows Tomahawk Creek, then Indian Creek, almost door to door from our house to the church. So, along the way, it moves through dense forest, revealing amazing glimpses of big river turtles, deer, oppossum, racoons, snakes, bobcats, and the usual birds, squirrels, and rabbits. It's awesome. One other thing: the creek beds, as all the soil around here, are lined underneath with shelves of limestone.

So, when the thunderstorms come blasting into this area, like they did last Tuesday night, dropping several inches of rain in a short period (about 3 inches in 3 hours last Tuesday), the water is immediately trapped in the creek channels so that the water rises precipitously. I always thought that flashfloods in the desert were outrageous (how could that water not drain immediately into the sand?); here, I am just as dumbstruck that water has nowhere to go.

At any rate, those 3 inches of rain left the creeks high and rushing on Wednesday morning. It was thrilling to see the huge volume of water surging down Tomahawk and then Indian Creek. Whereas the creeks normally run about 8-10 feet below the bike path, this day they were running probably 4-5 feet below the path. The speed and thunderous noise of it all spoke of danger and risk. I was loving it.

And then, all of a sudden I came around a sharp corner, angling up to the top of a rise. . . 20 plus feet above Indian Creek. . . and the path was covered with tree limbs and debris, 2 feet high and 20 feet across. On the top of the hill! In fact, I estimated I was standing, at the edge of the debris, an easy 25 feet above the normal water level in the creek. And 3 inches of rain had lifted this massive landfill of tree limbs the thickness of my upper legs to this highpoint. After I picked up my bike and carried it across this wasteland, and then moved carefully on along the bikepath, I began to realize that everywhere on this trail the water line from the night before was in fact at that incredible height. At last, some adventure in downtown KC!

All of it reawakens in me something that many have told me over the years: little is big. Or at least it can be. The power of an idea, like the value of the individual, for example, can overturn centuries of bondage to the "divine right of kings," as it did in the Renaissance and Reformation. One person's encouragement of another at just the right moment, usually unknown to the person speaking, can turn a life, a family's complexion, a company's direction, a nation's destiny. Just 3 inches of rain, which is a little in the big scope of things, can lift an incredible weight to an incredible height; how much more with human beings.

This is at the heart of so much of what Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.

"If you want to be big in the Kingdom of God, you can't be. Only those who are little can be big in the Kingdom of God" (Mark 10:43-45, my paraphrase)

"Truly, I tell you, this widow has put in more than all of them." (Luke 21:3, the story of the widow who put in two pennies, which was all she had)

"To such as these belongs the Kingdom of God" (Mark 10:13-16, Jesus speaking of little children, who could do nothing, gain no merit by good deeds, nor even understand what Jesus was doing to them as He prayed for them)

It seems to me that such high waters as visited Indian Creek last week are a sign in the physical realm of something true in Kingdom of God: that that which is little is powerful, big, amazing in the hands of God.