It’s a Small World
by Major Chick Yuill-
This column was written from a distance of 6000 miles. I’m sitting in my sister’s home in Inverness–the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Regular readers will know how much I love Pasadena, but I have to tell you that this is a town with its own very special charms. To be honest, it doesn’t compete with Southern California in the sunshine stakes; today has been cold and dull, but it hasn’t rained. And those of you who know Scotland will appreciate that every dry day is a bonus.
Inverness does, however, possess an indisputable beauty. All that rain may be less than welcome at times, but it does have an effect in creating a landscape that is lush and green. And Loch Ness–even without the mythical monster who is always sighted at least once each year just before the tourist season! –is one of the supreme glories of the natural world. If you’ve never visited Inverness and the Highlands of Scotland, you’ve missed out on a foretaste of heaven. I guess that’s why so many Americans include Inverness on their itinerary when they tour the United Kingdom. It’s usually easy to spot them. They’re the ones wearing tartan scarves and loudly protesting their Scottish ancestry.
Earlier today we were walking by the River Ness which runs through the center of the town, when one of those little incidents happened that makes one realize what a global village the world is now. We passed a young man coming in the opposite direction who recognized my sweatshirt–a Christmas gift from my daughter–on which is embroidered the words: ‘UCLA Dad.’ The young fellow was delighted and congratulated me on my choice of attire. ‘So where are you from?’ I asked him. ‘Southern California,’ he replied. ‘Where in Southern California?’ I responded. ‘Pasadena,’ he said to my amazement and delight. So right there on the banks of the River Ness we chatted and chuckled about the coincidence of our meeting and made all the usual comments about it being a small world.
Then a little later in the day I e-mailed the corps office to ask how Sunday morning worship had gone at Pasadena Tabernacle. Within minutes I had a full report on the excellent leadership of Majors Bill and Laurie Heiselmann and the ready response to the challenge of the gospel which was manifested in the sight of many people kneeling in consecration at the end of the service. And right here around the supper table we commented on the fact that it is, indeed, a small world.
Yesterday morning we attended worship at the local Methodist Church. The pastor there is only a couple of weeks away from retirement after 23 years of ministry in the same church. He had invited a number of the residents from nearby hospital where he had ministered for the last couple of decades to be his guests; they were all young adults who were severely educationally challenged and mentally handicapped. To honor their presence he adapted the service to suit their needs. In place of the usual sermon there was a Bible story with a simple explanation and application. Then the special guests sang, ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands.’ Some of their antics made the congregation laugh. But it was not unkind laughter; rather it was sympathetic and empathetic as we all celebrated the truth of that life has meaning, that there is a God who loves us, and that he holds the world in his hands.
On reflection, I think the title of this week’s column might not be entirely accurate. It just seems like a small world. It’s really a vast world inhabited by billions of people, most of whom I will never know. Meeting someone from Pasadena in Inverness may be no more than a coincidence. Hearing those young adults sing may have been no more than a poignant moment. But their song took me to the truth that is really important. Our God is a big God and our names are written on his heart. It isn’t the size of this planet that ultimately matters. It’s the fact that he holds it in his hands. And that’s a comfort to the people of Inverness, of Pasadena and all points in between.