Of Insignificance and Significance

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Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good. There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31, Common English Bible)

This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us… But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:5, 8, Common English Bible).

 

I still remember the day I reported aboard the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney. Standing on the pier looking up at haze gray steel, it just looked so big. And, it was far from being, not just the largest ship in the harbor, it wasn’t even the largest ship at that pier. When I turned around on the pier I was looking at the U.S.S. Saipan, a carrier for helicopters and probably twice the size of Mt. Whitney. I could also look further down to the carrier piers and they were far larger still.

Then there was the first day at sea. This ship that seemed so large standing next to it on the pier now seemed so small when I was standing on the bridge of Mt. Whitney somewhere out in the Atlantic. I realized I was one of more than 500 on the ship. And this ship? It was the only thing in sight for at least twelve miles in any direction (the distance from the ship to the horizon) was water, lots and lots of water. Imagine for a moment that you are standing in the exact center point of an Olympic size swimming pool with a two inch long toy boat. For that boat it is a long way from the middle of the pool to one of the walls.

It is a feeling of sheer insignificance. It comes at a time when we realize, we are just one of 7.5 billion people in the world. It comes when we realize that we are one in a number so large few of us can truly comprehend its size. It comes when we realize in comparison to the vastness of the world we are just a small spec.

After that first day at sea came the first night at sea. I stood on the bridge once again, looking out at the stars in the sky. That feeling of insignificance grows in the vastness of the dark. We might not be able to see all the water at night but we can certainly the vastness of the cosmos. Now,  instead of being one of 500 on a ship in the middle of one of earth’s oceans, we realize we are an even smaller spec in all the created cosmos.

If we pay attention to all that is around us, it can be very humbling. For me at least, words like, “You are dust and to dust you shall return,” spring quickly to mind. Some might wonder why I would think such a thing, but then again, when I consider how small I am compared with the vastness of God’s creation, how can I see it any other way?

Though it can be difficult, let’s take a look at this from a bit of a different perspective. Look at our own bodies. Just the idea that one degree of fever can make the difference between feeling great and feeling completely miserable says something of this finely tuned piece of divine engineering that is the human body. Scientists are discovering more each year of how one part of the body and how it relates to another. There are now studies that show a relationship between gum disease and heart disease. I read an article a few weeks back suggesting there may be a relationship between untreated hearing loss and stroke. I have no idea if such is true or not. I feel certain more research needs to be done. But, that suggests to me that we humans, though we may feel insignificant at times, in the eyes of God we are far from insignificance.

We are significant. Think about it this way, out of all God created, the human creature is the only element of creation that God said was, “supremely good.” God said all the rest of creation was good, but of the human creature it was “very good” (depending on the Biblical translation you read).

And, in Romans we are reminded that through the Holy Spirit God pours love out upon us. But, even more importantly, Paul reminds us that God loves us so much, Christ died, for us. Such moves us from insignificance to significance in a really big hurry.

If ever you feel insignificant, remember, God doesn’t think so. You are important. You are loved.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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