Great things usually start out as small things–a thought, an idea, a comment, a prototype.
Apple Corporation started in the garage of Steve Jobs’ parents in Los Altos, California in 1976. Jobs and his friends Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne paid their way by picking apples during the day and working on the design of their first computer by night. Wozniak asked Jobs, “What will we name our company?” After some thought, Jobs, who was munching on an apple he had just picked, said, “Let’s call it ‘Apple.” In 1984 when they produced their first personal computer, the apple orchards again lent a name, “Macintosh.” Earlier, Wayne, who despaired of the fledgling company surviving, sold his share to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. In 2015 Apple became the first American company to be valued at $700 billion.
The same “started in a garage” story marked the birth of other well-known giants: Disney, Amazon, Google, Harley-Davidson, Hewlett-Packard, and Mattel.
That’s what Christmas is about.
A young girl, who would otherwise remain nameless to history, was visited by an angel and told the shocking news that she would become pregnant! “That’s impossible!” she replied, probably indignantly at first, since the angel’s message, she thought, might be impugning her sexual purity. The angel calmed her with the words, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1).
And from that brief visit a child began to form and develop in her womb. Within nine months the boy child was born, not in a home like most children at that time, and not even in his mother’s home town of Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem, about 80 miles south of Nazareth. And when Mary gave birth to her infant son, Joseph prepared the best resting place he could find in what was probably a cave used to keep cattle–he fitted with straw and clothing a small bed in a feed trough, or manger.
From that small, humble beginning grew a man who was the epicenter of human history–Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
C. S. Lewis, in his epic, The Last Battle, features the Christ-figure, Aslan, the Mighty Lion. Lewis has his characters commenting:
“It seems, then,” said Tirian, smiling himself, “that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.” “Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.” “Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
— Lewis, C.S. (2008-10-29). The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia (p. 161). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Jesus later said that the kingdom of God would have the same type of development–as small as a tiny mustard seed planted in soil and growing to a huge tree (Matthew 13).
The kingdom of God is both external and internal. External, as the Christian Church spreads from one generation to another and from nation to nation. Internal, as the first awakenings of faith in God’s free offer of eternal life grow until it fills one’s heart and mind, and guides through life’s many routes and events. Finally, in the last chapter, the kingdom journey leads from the exit sign labeled “Death” through the portals labeled “Heaven.”
Referring again to The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis:
“’I see,’ [Queen Lucy] said at last, thoughtfully. ‘I see now. This garden is like the stable. It is far bigger inside than it was outside.’ ‘Of course, Daughter of Eve,’ said the Faun. ‘The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.'”
— Lewis, C.S. (2008-10-29). The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia (pp. 206-207). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
“The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”
That is how I view ALS. Every chapter of my life has been a journey within which the kingdom of God has grown larger and larger in my heart and mind, from a small boy until now at the age of seventy-seven.
From a bystander’s vantage point on the outside looking in, who has never understood the Manger at Bethlehem and in whom the tiny mustard seed of faith has never been planted, ALS is a horror! A scourge! A terror! It evokes fear, depression, and, in some, thoughts of suicide. And, perhaps, in reading this blog post the bystander sees me as an escape artist from reality.
But for me ALS is not a tragedy. It is not a disease that sinks me into despair and depression. ALS is another classroom along the journey that will have a doorway on the far wall marked by either a sign that reads, “He heals all my diseases,” or, “Welcome home.” While presently in that room for almost four years now I am experiencing peace, joy, calmness, and a sharpened understanding of the mercy and grace of God. In fact, some abilities and gifts that were there prior are becoming more finely honed inside the classroom of ALS.
Where to now, Aslan?