I have been thinking about the Christian life, and my own life, thinking about the essential themes, experiences and needs, and I have landed on these two words to describe it: Epic and Intimate. Somehow these resonate deeply as the core of life with God.
As I thought about this, I remembered something that happened more than ten years ago, when my best friend Brent was killed in a climbing accident. I went to the mountains to seek solace, and solitude, beauty, and time with God. I was high in the Holy Cross wilderness, surrounded by majestic peaks and valleys. But the grandeur – the Epic – did not meet me as it normally does. I walked; I wandered. As I was descending back to my camp one afternoon, I came across a very small patch of very small flowers, tiny little white flowers so delicate and intricate they could have been lace. The dam broke; the grief poured out; I wept for the first time deeply. Because what I found in those flowers was the Intimate – the love of God, the mercy of God, the tenderness. Intimately.
A few weeks ago Stasi had some music on the stereo, a soundtrack to a movie and it was very sweeping, moving, Epic. It stirred me deeply, woke me from the mundane, called my heart up. It was just what I needed.
But on the whole, I tend to spend a lot of time in the Great Battle, and relish the Epic, find in it my life’s purpose. So again this summer, as I took to the mountains, I found it was the Intimate my soul most deeply needed. We were hiking in the Flat Tops; there was a 100 foot waterfall. It was awesome (Epic). I loved it. But what I lingered over were the smaller things – dew in the meadow, the tiny flowers (this time pink ones), the particular leaves and bark on a tree.
Epic and Intimate.
I think you could take these two categories and find them helpful in many ways. Those of us who tend toward the Epic need to balance that with the Intimate. And the opposite is also true – those who tend towards the Intimate need to awaken to the Epic and live in it.