The Smaller Picture

One day in chapel at Trinity Western University a few years ago, slides were being shown of various faculty members. A picture of Richard Paulton (now retired), was shown, peering over his microscope. The very fitting quote on the slide was "God is in the details," a statement generally attributed to architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. LMVDR probably did not design leaky condos.

Richard Paulton is a microbiologist, and so the smaller picture is very important to him and to any reasonable understanding of bacteria and other microorganisms. In my last entry, I exalted the "bigger picture" as an ecologist interested in the relationships among all things. However, I should point out that to understand the bigger picture we need to see God in the details.

My Ph.D. work as an ecologist was spent observing interactions among very small mites (barely visible to the naked eye), as they inhabited 1.8 cm leaf disk arenas. I was trying to understand what went on in an orchard of an acre or more, but I could not begin to do that without going down to a microscopic scale.

Humans are scale-limited. We go about our lives mostly in the very ordinary scale of computer screens, cars, living rooms, and gardens when the creator of the universe has placed within a kaleidoscope of scales beyond our comprehension. That's why when we look up at the stars in a seemingly infinite universe we think of God, and why microbiologists peering down their microscopes think of God. But can't we also see God at our everyday scale?

God was incarnated at our everyday scale as Jesus Christ. But make no mistake - my God's a big God but small enough to live in me (in the words of an Imperials song).


Last updated Jan. 19th, 2009 at 4:04pm by David Clements