Finding God in Big and Small Ways
A devotional by Karen Marstaller
For thus says the One Who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
— Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)
On a recent visit to California, my family and I were astounded by the grandeur of snow-capped mountain peaks, stunning electric blue lakes, vast Giant Sequoias, layers upon layers of lush ferns, and bubbling volcanic fields. Every day was an adventure to see which new turn in the trail would stop us in our tracks to stand in awe of God’s creative power.
On the last day we were there, we went to the Redwoods National and State Parks. Trekking down the gently curving path was a spectacular lesson in botany. Hundreds of Redwoods, along with much smaller trees, provided lovely shade and even shelter from a short spate of rain. A canopy of the Lord’s natural design served as our sanctuary.
Several signboards directed us to Big Tree just ahead. Almost 270 feet tall, and almost 70 feet around, Big Tree has lived for somewhere around 1,500 years. Surrounded by a deck, the tree is accessible to the hundreds of people who come every day to see this colossal reminder of our place in the world.
When I leaned over to touch the smooth-rough bark of the magnificent tree, I leaned back to look up. Suddenly overwhelmed by my own insignificance, all I could do was cry. God is our strong tower as Proverbs 18:10 reminds us. We look to Him to save us.
Just a few steps away another Redwood lay on its side, downed by wind or old age. It was almost halfway decayed, and much of the tree’s core spilled onto the ground in a trickle of sawdust. Such a sad, yet natural, part of God’s creation.
But out of the sawdust, fresh soil grew. A tiny plant drew sustenance from the death of the mighty Redwood above it. Its roots went deep, drawing moisture and life from the decay around it.
The tenacious little plant was adorned with dozens of tiny white flowers that were about the size of a pencil eraser. The petals of each blossom were shaped with small triangles. In number, they were seven.
Seven. Such a beautiful number, but as I knelt beside that fallen tree, it was a reminder to forgive—seventy times seven (as Jesus tells us to in Matthew 18:21-22). I looked up and surveyed my surroundings. Hundreds of those little flowers showed their lovely faces as far as I could see!
As I’ve thought and prayed about my experience that day, I understand now that God was showing me just a teensy glimmer of His majesty through His creation of Big Tree. In addition, He drew my eyes to see His message of forgiveness in a seemingly insignificant wildflower at my feet.
The Holy One, the King of the Universe, uses everything – even the smallest, most mundane things – to point us to Him. He loves for us to be amazed at His power, but He also demonstrates His love in myriads of ways. For me that day, He gently drew me to see His lesson. I needed to look up and to behold the creation given by my glorious King. And then it was time to look down, to go low, to be contrite, and to forgive seventy times seven—God’s number of infinity.
Let’s Pray: Father, please allow us to worship You in spirit and in truth, to acknowledge Your good and gracious love, and to be grateful for Your caring forgiveness and mercy. Please help us to do as You teach us, to forgive quickly, completely, and as often as we can. Help our forgiveness to be as fruitful as that little glen, growing daily with tons of Your seventy times seven. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
During this time of quarantine, Karen enjoys reading, writing, and connecting with friends and family via phone calls, texts, emails, blogs, live-streams, and video conferencing.
She is grateful that the Lord has provided so many ways for humankind to stay in community, even when we are all hunkering down in our homes.
Karen says, “In this unprecedented time, we know that He has prepared us for such a time as this! To God be all the glory!”
You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org