God Is in the Details

Self Check Out

Matthew 10:29: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”

I don’t know if you pay much attention to details. I know I don’t, which is why I never noticed that my S-10 had three doors or that our daughter Amy had a job for three weeks. Sometimes we think of details as small and unimportant. We might say, “Oh, that’s a mere detail. Don’t worry about it,” but they’re important after all.

The architect Mies van de Rohe, who was given the name Maria Ludwig Michael Mies van de Rohe at birth and who dropped off all but the “Mies” uttered the words of the title of this writing. By saying so, he wanted the world to understand that a design succeeds or fails through attention to small matters which, overall, add up to great buildings or symphonies or brick walls or sweaters. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the very old rhyme,

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For the want of a horse the rider was lost,

For the want of a rider the battle was lost,

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail,

which speaks to this idea.

I was reminded of this statement when I made the third of three trips to the Food Lion we patronize yesterday. I was using the self-checkout, which I like except when the voice tells me to take my groceries and leave. She or it doesn’t say those exact words, but I’m close. Anyhow, I was trying to take one of the plastic bags off its wire hanger and not having a lot of success. I finally wrenched it free, and in so doing, tore one of the handles. I looked to see what damage I had caused (I don’t know why—it wasn’t like I crashed into a cart with my car), but I was curious, as I am about most things. There I saw, for the first time, that the handles have small oblong slots in them, which slide over the hangers. The design is so ingenious that I’m surprised that I had never noticed it before. Or I should say that I wasn’t surprised that I never saw it.

It occurred to me that without the slots in the handles which allows them to come off easily, I would never be able to take a bag off, and other people would have greater difficulty doing so. This small detail of design does make a difference.

I think God is not only in the details, God is all about detail. The scriptures tell us that God is the almighty creator of the entire universe, and yet he watches out for sparrows and counts the hairs on our head (you may insert your favorite bald joke here). And if God is concerned with details, so should we be, paying attention to everything we say and do and think. If we do so, then we are showing the world the love and grace of God, who attended to every detail of our salvation, arranging events and calling unlikely people to bring Jesus Christ into the world, to nurture him, and finally to see his sacrifice on the Cross. In that way, the smallest details added up to the greatest demonstration of love ever seen in the universe. Let us thank God for the details that insured our salvation!

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