One of my favorite sketches from Sesame Street is when our furry friend, Grover demonstrates “Near and far.” He comes up super-close to the camera and excitedly says in his wonderful voice, “This is Near!” Then he runs far away in the frame and shouts from the distance, “This is Faaaar!” Then he runs back to the camera, panting and says, “This is Near!” Again, he takes off for the distance and shouts, “This is Faaaar.” He does this several times, growing increasingly out of breath and a bit desperate to communicate these important concepts to the viewer who just doesn’t seem to be getting it. He finally collapses in exhaustion. You can watch it here.
Makes me smile every time.
If you study what the Bible teaches us about God, we find that He declares Himself to be “Near” and “Far” at the same time. Mind-blowing right? And important too. Because we often tend to think of God only as far-off (powerful, but inaccessible). Or as super-close (handy, but limited). It’s hard for us to think about both of these concepts at the same time. And this can make it hard for us to relate to Him.
We think of the President as being far off. And because of this we don’t have access. We can’t call him or visit with him. As someone grows in importance, power, and fame, they become less and less accessible to us. How can God–the creator of the distance galaxies–care about the details of my life? I don’t have an equivalent relationship anywhere of someone who is that big and powerful actually knowing me. Or caring about me.
But the crazy thing is, the bigger he gets, the closer he gets. He’s so big that he knows everything about us! The number of hairs on our head, the Bible says! And his knowing isn’t like the data-farming ever increasing impersonal knowledge of Google. But personal, caring, and desirous of real intimacy. One preacher said it this way, “God’s greatness is so big that He can’t overlook you.” We are never forgotten. In our loneliness, we’re never truly alone.