At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34–35)
“Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24)
Years ago I lost count of the clergy I had met who owned model railways. Scattered through the land are vicars, standing in garages or attics surrounded by track. Over the years the tracks develop, and I have seen little tiny vistas with hills dotted with minuscule sheep. Small waiting rooms are clustered with smaller passengers, and at the turn of a dial the whole thing springs into action. Trains whirr along the tracks and, in particularly advanced examples of the craft, little lights go on in buildings.
I’ve scratched my head about this. What is it about vicaring which gives rise to the urge to build train tracks? Is it to regain a sense of control? Do clergy feel trapped by PCCs and the cycle of the church year, rolling ever on? Is the train track an act of rebellious organisation?
It maybe any of these things, but there might be a more theological impulse. In the Scriptures we read of a God who is all mighty, and all powerful. A God who orders the affairs of nations, and does as he wills. A God who is not frustrated by the actions of any individual or people. Yet for all this, as we live out our lives in the midst of ‘stuff’ it is easy to feel dismayed by the way things are going. Lacking the divine perspective the world may seem out of control.
To build a train track is to attempt to gain a God’s-eye of the world once more. It reminds us that there is someone who, after all, is in control and who does as he wills. God needs no more from us, than the model railway builder needs from the little tiny model of a dog. To know God as almighty, is to regain a sense of things being under control.