The Joy in the Largeness

The Joy in the Largeness

It was hot and humid, which is pretty standard for a tropical rainforest. I was with a missions group, deep in a jungle on the island of Trinidad. Everything around seemed to captivate our attention. Leafcutter ants were victoriously carrying green triangles of plant life down the path. Trees unfamiliar to us shot up toward the heavens. A lone candy-blue butterfly darted here and there, teasing us with glimpses of his beauty. Periodically, parrots would fly overhead in pairs, as they entertained themselves doing whatever it is that parrots do. We were drawn to even the smallest details of the environment, snapping pictures at every turn.

But then we saw it. Maracas falls.

It’s tough to put into words what it’s like to suddenly come across a 420-foot waterfall. Just imagining the sheer magnitude of it is almost impossible. To give you even a general idea, if you could set an entire football field on its end, the waterfall would be taller than end zone to end zone.  Yeah, it’s that huge. You cannot even crane your neck back far enough—it actually requires you to physically lean back to take in the entire view.

We dropped our things and clambered across rocks as big as cars to get closer, eventually standing directly underneath the cascading water. The sound was deafening. Looking up again, we noticed that the mist created a rainbow, only it wasn’t a “bow”. The colors on display in the bow actually formed a complete circle around the water as it fell. I don’t even know what you call that other than…..

Awesome. Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Breath-taking.

It was just so immensely huge. There was so much power, grace, and beauty in something so gorgeous and yet somehow so dangerous.
Satan is apparently a big fan of mountain top views too. Only for an entirely different reason.

Matthew 4:8-9  Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 

He used this mountain top view to tempt Christ. Of course, he failed. (Miserably, I might add). But I ran across a quote the other day that really caused me to stop and consider Satan’s point of this temptation exercise.

“Satan was the most celebrated of Alpine guides, when he took Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth. But the joy of Satan in standing on a peak is not a joy in largeness, but a joy in beholding smallness, in the fact that all men look like insects at his feet. It is from the valley that things look large; it is the level that things look high; I am a child of the level and have no need of that celebrated Alpine guide.”*

He concludes this sentiment with a passage from Psalms:

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” (Psalm 121:1)

“I am a child of the level.” I love that. I get to watch God be God and because He is my Father, I can be content down low.
As human beings, we tend to see big things—things far out of our control– as the most awe-inspiring. A flash of lightning that spreads like fingers across a darkened sky. A volcano that erupts, spewing lava into the sea below. The stars that pierce the night like light through holes in a back-lit canopy.

And yet, our greatest sense of awe, our greatest sense of wonder and fear and still the joy, comes from recognizing that God is high and lifted up. He sits high but reaches low and His arm is not shortened but is fully able to reach all the way to where we are.
What a fool Satan is for thinking that true joy comes from having us look like insects at his feet.

No, the real joy comes from looking at the God of waterfalls, rivers, valleys and streams, oceans and volcanoes and knowing “He sees and knows me.”
Satan doesn’t know what it’s like to be in awe. His day is coming, but for now, he sure is missing out.

*G.K. Chesterton

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