When it comes to skyscrapers, I might as well admit it: I’m a soft touch.
Maybe it’s because of my NYC experience as a four-year-old. My Dad, Mom, my brothers and I headed north from Flemington, New Jersey to Manhattan. From the 80-something floor of the Empire State building, we looked out over the sprawling metropolis. My head poking through the railing, I looked at the vehicles so far below, then exclaimed: “Daddy, look at all those Matchbox cars down there!”
As a student on Boston’s South Shore, I trekked more than once to the Prudential building, in search of the same perched-above-it-all thrill. Then just last week, Seattle’s Columbia Center beckoned. From the 73rd floor of the 76 floor titan – the tallest in the West Coast region of North America – I spied the comings-and-goings of harbor boats in Elliott Bay, elevated highways snaking south toward Normandy Park, and Mt. Rainier foggy through the mist. Even on a cloudy day, it was worth the admission price.
Yet most of our life is lived down on the street. In Seattle, it’s down in Pike Place Market where they throw you the catch of the day…and you drop it. Or back in Boston, when you leave the Prudential building, the same subway that deposited you near tony Beacon Hill takes you back to Eastern Nazarene College winding through hardscrabble neighborhoods like Roxbury. Even the storied Empire State Building that summer day in ’67 sheltered in a stairwell a derelict man, sleeping away his hangover.
There are days when I see God from the lookout. Through prayer, Scripture reading or the well-crafted phrase of a praise song or sermon, I momentarily rise and glimpse the majesty of the vista. Perched above it all, the rays of the sun seem warmer, clearer, more pristine. There, the sweep of God’s plans fit together in unity, a well-choreographed dance scene from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Most days, though, I’m at street level. Instead of pondering the greatness of God, I’m frantically looking for my car keys or fretting about whether the money is going to run out before the month does.
Yet the amazing thing about the God we serve is that God is not confined! At the top of the skyscraper? God is there. Down on the street level where we suffer? God is there, too — Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.