Advent Day 25 - Wednesday, December 20

On the face of it, the idea of “magnifying” God seems ridiculous. After all, to magnify something is to make it appear larger than it is, “to cause to appear greater, more important, or more extreme than is in fact the case,” according to my cracked and shelf-worn copy of the American Heritage Dictionary, a college-graduation present from my grandfather.

So let me get this straight: You’re suggesting that I—little ol’ me—should undertake the business of making God “appear greater, more important, or more extreme than is in fact the case”? God—the creator of the universe, the ground of being, the great I Am…that one? That’s whom I should be magnifying, making appear more important, and so on?

Good one.

Oh, but look—further down on the impossibly thin page (online dictionaries may be faster, but they are nowhere near as satisfying in a tactile sense), here’s a reference to the Middle English magnifien, “to extol, from Old French magnifier, from Latin magnificāre, from magnificus, magnificent.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The idea, I think, is not that my “magnifying” God will somehow help God appear greater or more important, but rather that magnifying God—exalting God, extolling God’s greatness, pointing to and focusing on God’s magnificence—might help me go deeper into that greatness, to develop a greater appreciation of the goodness that surrounds us, to hone the skill of seeing God even in times when and places where God seems to be hiding.

This is not something that comes naturally to me. Generally, I am more inclined to take a “stuff happens” view of things. But when I pause and give myself a mental nudge to look at things more closely, I am invariably pleased and surprised at the result.

An example: Four months ago today, my mother-in-law reached the end of her life. She was a treasure, and while I miss her and plan to continue to miss her deeply, I am grateful for having known her for almost four decades. Hers was a remarkable life: As a child, she fled her home in Latvia with her mother and siblings during World War II. Eventually, improbably, she found herself employed in Moody County, South Dakota, where she met and married an eligible young farmer, with whom she raised four children and left a positive impression on every life she touched in nearly 70 years on her beloved farm.

If I choose to think in such terms—if I give myself that mental nudge to make myself think in such terms—I can only marvel at the sequence of events that shaped her life, my wife’s life, my life, our kids’ lives, and so on. A sequence that ultimately belongs to a God who pulls everything together and pushes everything around, directly and indirectly, purposely and unintentionally (I think God likes to stay open to surprises), and makes stuff happen. All stuff. All the time.

And for that, good God, I thank you, I praise you, I magnify you.

Bill Reynolds