Devil in the Details

I’m sometimes known for my attention to details (Just ask my husband about doing dishes!)  

So of course I like the idea that God notices and cares about the details.. the small things that aren’t noticeable at first glance.  The way one family I know composts, because they think that detail of caring for the environment matters.  The way another friend gets crazy deals with coupons, because those details add up to more money they get to keep (which they often choose to give away.)  

Our church services are full of details.  

Making the coffee.  Setting the sound system.  Setting out the treats.  Making sure people know where to park, how to get inside the church.  Someone thought through the details of the building long before sunday ever happened.  How would someone in a wheelchair get in the building or go to the restroom?  Can the sound system help someone with hearing aids?  What kind of coffee is the church going to purchase, and how does that affect the people who grow the coffee?  

All these choices (and so many more in our personal lives) involve more details if we keep breaking them down than we can ever handle understanding or wrapping our minds around.  They all affect people in ways we can’t even imagine.  

As a musician, I focus in on a lot of details other people would never notice.  How is that chord voiced?  What harmony should I sing to work with the melody and the chords?  I spend time practicing and working out details that ‘other people wouldn’t notice’.  

Except, when a professional takes the stage, it seems like people notice.  Often not the details themselves, but… something.  They notice something is different, more details are thought through, even though the average listener can’t articulate what additional details are added to the music.  

In my job at the library, sometimes the staff will spend time straightening the books on the shelf so the spines are even and flush with the edge of the shelf.  Someone commented that walking into an area that had just been straightened that it ‘felt’ professional.  Taking care of that detail was small and subtle, and arguably not important, but it still made an underlying difference.  

I say all that perhaps to reassure myself that the work I put into the details of the music I bring to church means something, matters in some way more than the sum of the details themselves.  I say that also to point out the opposite: in the details of my life I let slip, when my tongue is out of control, and the details are chaotic or cutting – it’s the little details where the devil likes to meet me.  One out-of place book in a library is often VERY difficult to find.  One letter spelled wrong in someone’s name in a database can cause expensive errors.  One word I say can hurt my closest relationships.  The small things, the details, matter.  (Sorry guy who wrote the book about not sweating the small stuff!) 

Perhaps it is not the nature of details, but the far more powerful effect of grace in our lives that really allows us NOT to ‘sweat the small stuff’.  The small stuff all matters; Grace is the force that sets it right, that takes the best of our details and makes up for the details we miss, the small ways we go around sinning that we don’t even know about.  

 

 

God, help us honor and worship you in the details of our lives and our work, that all of what we do would be to your glory to the last syllable, bolt, sixteenth note, or coupon..  Help us see the way the details of our choices affect those we are close to (and those who might live on the other side of the world.)  Fill us with your grace to learn and forgive ourselves and others for the details we miss.  Thank you for making up for all the details we miss and gently teaching us as a father teaches his children.  

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