I stood in front of the big tank at the Georgia Aquarium on Thursday afternoon and thought to myself, “God is so big.” A whale shark swam by, followed by a manta ray, followed by this green fish that I remember calling “broccoli fish” when I was little. Every time I saw one of the whale sharks, I thought, “God is so big.” I hated to walk away from that big tank. Even though it makes me seem like a loser, I was there by myself, which meant that I had the freedom to sit in front of that tank for as long as I wanted to.
And every time I saw those whale sharks, I thought, “God is so big.” But surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the most natural thing in the world.
Naturally, I want to make God mine. We sing a lot of songs at church about God being mine (“Oceans” and “Arms Open Wide” are two that instantly come to mind), and I’m all for God becoming that personal. Some of our craziest moments of connection are when we realize how ridiculous it is that God offers Himself to us for a relationship that will last into eternity.
But I’ve been learning a lot about letting go recently and I don’t think we can march through life clenching our fists too tightly around anything, even God. We cannot box Him up inside our hearts or our rows of chairs on Sunday or our small group circles filled with encouragement and chocolate. He is in all of those things, but He’s in so much more.
He’s in the whale sharks. He’s in the stars that we can’t see and never will. He’s in the galaxies a million lightyears away. He’s in the teeny tiny plant cells with their teeny tiny cell walls. (I’m ready for A.P. Biology, y’all.) He’s in darkness and death, and by that I don’t mean that He causes those things or enjoys them, but that He can be found working in them. He’s in India and Haiti and England and Malaysia and New York City and Uganda and Australia. He is in the history of Bible times and the promises of the future. He is in everything, so why do we try to confine Him to just “mine”?
He is so much bigger than our big city churches with our food drives and electric guitars on Sunday. He is so much bigger than my journal time every night. He is so much bigger than the songs I sing with hands lifted high, than the coffeeshop conversations I have with my small group leaders, than the tears we shed on our latest church retreat.
I don’t think you can know God until you realize He’s yours, but I don’t think you can know God fully until you realize He’s not only that. He’s everyone’s, everywhere, in everything, everyday. It’s my prayer that God would allow me to see Him that way. I want to see Him in all the world so that He can use me in His plan to love and change it.
The next time I see those whale sharks, I don’t want to have to force myself to see them as His creation. That’s sort of what it felt like on Thursday: oh, right, this is His, He’s not just in my bubble of a sheltered life. I am in training now to see God in whale sharks, and flowers, and letters, and cancer, and college, and finances, and people. I want my view of God to expand and expand and expand until I see everything as the tiny piece of heaven that it already is or that it will become. God is so much bigger than a church. He’s even bigger than the whale sharks. It’s time we started trying to see Him that way.