Our family had the chance to go to the beach a few weeks back, a generous three-night gift from a friend. And just so we’re being honest at the start of this Colossians thing, “go to the beach” for this girl always translates “go to stare at the beach from a safe distance, away from the gritty sand and harmful UV rays on my depressingly bone-white skin.”
Why God brought me to Florida, I’ll never know.
But the Pastor loves the beach, along with his crazy children, and so I’ve learned to love it too, in my own standoffish kind of way.
The condo where we stayed was certainly wonderful, only steps from the ocean and nine floors up — an elevator window to the expanse of the Atlantic. I woke up early all three mornings to soak in the sunrise, and I spent most of my days reading or working on the balcony, marveling at the view.
The ocean by day is staggering in its beauty and expanse. There is a kind of worshipful humility that comes from standing at its shore, so small against such vast, roaring, eternal greatness. The sun crests over the foamy waves, and you can’t help but praise the One who “measures out the waters (Job 28:25).”
The ocean on a cloudy night is a whole other thing. Our first evening there revealed no moon or stars, and after the sunset I stood and stared into the deep, boundless blackness — an infinity of terrible nothing for ground or horizon or sky. My heart leapt to get away from its own smallness, constantly turning me around to face the lighted shore in order to anchor itself in time and space.
The human soul does not like to face its own insignificance. But even in a world where we’re constantly propped up to believe in our own self-importance, we can’t help but see it sometimes, whether at the shore of the sea, or at the death of someone we love, or in the comparison of our lives to a friend’s, or at the hands of a spouse or friend who is false.
Why me? we cry out. I should be more important than this, we say in our hearts.
But life has answered No.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, its people were probably feeling the same way. Once a powerful city on an important trade route, Colossae was now a rural, agrarian town, bypassed by progress and living in between the shadows of two larger cities. Paul had never even visited here — the church had been established by someone else.
Far worse, in a few years after receiving this letter, this already insignificant city will be destroyed by an earthquake and completely abandoned. The site, buried near modern-day Honaz in Turkey, has not been excavated to this day.
In fact, the only lasting things about Colossae are this letter and the one to Philemon, a pastor there, which have been preserved for 20 centuries in the pages of God’s Word.
And it’s in this fact that we discover our only true and lasting hope of significance:
God speaks to us.
If you are feeling unimportant or overlooked, the people of the church of Colossians, who now worship at the throne of God, have a message for you.
It’s all going to be okay, they say.
The One whose voice sounds like thunder and fire and rushing waters has taken time to whisper your name, they say.
Because the God who wrote to the mighty Romans did not overlook the lowly Colossians. He is paying attention to those who fear Him, and it is His voice that makes our lives echo for eternity, not our own.
Go to the next post in The Colossians Project.
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