When I used to live in New York City, I’d take the small, not very fast elevator to the ninth floor of my apartment building. Nine floors is not what New Yorkers think of when you say “tall building,” but still when I’d look out my windows at the people and cars below, I would feel a part of the sun’s rays streaming down from the sky…or the raindrops in mid-fall…or those cheeky snowflakes that sometimes blow upwards before dizzily joining the bustle below.
The tallest building I’ve ever been in is the North Tower of the World Trade Center, on the 107th floor. This was shortly before the Towers were struck down on September 11, 2001. Ah, that was the view of birds! I felt light and airy suspended beneath a dome of stars, above a trillion city lights winking up at me.
Height from a building or from a plateau might give you a sense of power, of being above the world’s troubles, above your own worries even, but, of course, eventually, you take the ‘elevator’ back down. Whether you’re standing above New York’s city streets or above the stillness of Kenya’s open plains, there is the sense of being removed from life, as if you could step outside your body and hold God’s hand.
What happens when you return to life’s routine, to your parents and teachers and friends? Do you drop God’s hand? When you’re face to face with your fears, your challenges at school or work, your country’s tragedies, do you feel as if you’re on your own, just you and the consequences?
Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? (Jeremiah 23: 23-24 ESV)
Right, it’s not just you. On your own. Alone. God rides that elevator back down to the ground floor with you. He walks home with you, even when the plains are flooded. He suffers the consequences of humanity’s sins, and of your own mistakes, with you. He holds tighter to your hand.
Living in tall buildings?… it’s really all the same.