THE HISTORY OF
...and the Genesis of YOU
“And God saw everything that he had made,
and behold, it was very good.”
1. Questions too Big for any Specialist (Genesis 1:1) 15 2. The Day You Were Born: your Father’s story
and the ramblings of mad scientists and Pharisees (Genesis 1:1) 27
3. The Deepest Story: not your failure,
but God’s success (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) 39
4. The Deepest Story: not Darwinism,
but the 7th Day (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) 53
5. Sabbath (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) 70
6. The Abyss (Genesis 1:1-3) 86
7. The Abyss in Me (Genesis 1:1-4) 100
8. Let There Be Light (Genesis 1:1-5) 117
we’re not there yet (Genesis 1:6-10) 131
road signs for pilgrims (Genesis 1:9-26) 148
11. Care for Creation and Creation Cares for You (Genesis 1:24-26) 163 12. How to Make a World with Just a Word (Genesis 1:16-2:3) 174
Appendix: “Everything Good” and “What the Hell?” 190
Chapter Summaries 206
The Most Embarrassing Chapter in the Bible
For me, for much of my life, Genesis one, has been the most embarrassing chapter
in all of Scripture. As a kid, I was a science geek. I also happened to love Jesus. He was/ is absolutely beautiful… but dinosaurs are pretty cool too. Some folks told me that they were mutually exclusive, at least for folks with half a brain. By that they meant any serious discussion of dinosaurs (Science), would clash with any serious commitments of faith (Religion).
By 1983 I found myself Leading a Young Life Christian outreach program and preparing to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado with a degree in Geology, (I mention Phi Beta Kappa because I want you to know, I’m not just making up ‘science stuff’). I still remember the graduate level teaching assistant for one of my courses. Having found out that I was planning to go to seminary to study Theology, she pulled me into her office, sat me down and told me that I could go anywhere I wanted in Geology. Then she asked, “Why!?... Why would you go to seminary?” Then, she gave me a little lecture. The gist of it was, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
By 1988 I was “wasted.” I graduated with a Masters of Divinity Degree in Theology and entered the ministry. By that time I was pretty sure of one thing: there were a lot of folks that said the Bible said a bunch of stuff it didn’t say (remember the Bible wasn’t written in English) AND there were even more folks that said science revealed a bunch of stuff it didn’t reveal (remember science observes evidence and postulates theories). “Mad Scientists” and “Pharisees” have thoroughly dominated our perceptions of Genesis Chapter One for the last one hundred years.
The Meaning of Genesis Chapter 1… and everything
If I were writing this book twenty years ago, I suspect that’s principally what I’d talk about: The translation of certain Hebrew words, the implication of certain gaps in the stratigraphic record etc., etc. Well, I’ll mention a bit of that stuff, so it won’t get in the way. It’s really quite fascinating, but not nearly as fascinating as the meaning of Genesis One. We’ve been so preoccupied with the age of the earth and how to get dinosaurs on an ark, that we’ve missed the point. The point is always, “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Or let me say it another way: God is good, He is making you in His image and He will not fail, even if, especially if we break His body, shed His blood and crucify him on a tree.
God is creating you with His Word. He is Love and His Word is the revelation of Love. All Creation is a Love Story written to you. You were created to read that story and fall in Love with the author, your author. In the words of St. Paul, “Creation was subjected to futility…in hope… God consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all.” (Romans 8:20, 11:32) In other words, the Love story isn’t over and at the end of the story, behold everything is “very good.” (Gen. 1:31) Everything filled with Love: Our Creator. God’s Word “does not return void.” It/ He is the Meaning of all things.
Now I should tell you: The institutions of this world don’t like that truth; our “flesh” doesn’t like that truth—The Truth. We like to think that we write our own story. We like to think that we are our own creator and savior. And our institutions like to sell themselves as necessary for our redemption. To confess that God in Christ Jesus is creator, savior and redeemer—indeed, an entirely successful creator, savior and redeemer—is the ultimate threat to our ego and the institutions of this world. If God writes the story, we don’t.
Sadly, what we refer to as “The Church,” is often an institution of this world and thus threatened by the power of God’s Grace. If we are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand,” …then we are not an institution’s workmanship created through promises and threats anchored in fear.
If God is the Creator that doesn’t fail:
Then, the church can’t threaten with ultimate failure.
Then, I can’t preach, “Do what I tell you to do or you can no longer be saved.” I can’t pretend I’m the savior, who saves people… from God.
I can’t pretend that I love people more than my God, who is Love… loves those very same people
When we believe that God is a creator who fails, we become an institution filled with fear and threatening with fear. But when we believe that God is Love and “Love doesn’t fail,” we become a Bride enamored with Grace, who can’t stop singing about her Bridegroom.
Well if you sing that song, don’t expect everyone to like it… even the people that claim they do. Several years ago the institution required that I publicly confess that there was a group of people that “could not be saved.” In other words, I was asked to confess that God “could not” make everyone in His Image; that a person’s sin can be more powerful than God’s plan and power to save; that my failure can trump God’s Mercy; that when God speaks, it’s only wishful thinking and not the substrate of all reality; that God speaks his Word and it does not accomplish that for which it was sent.
Well, there’s a great deal of mystery here, but I’m convinced that when God said, “let us make mankind (Adam) in our own image and likeness,” He meant it and did not intend to fail. The message of Genesis 1:1-2:4, is that He did not fail. Even when the Word of God was nailed to a tree and the sky grew black and the creation mourned, that Word did not fail… for when it “failed” it won—He won. I think that’s the deepest story. I’ll spare you the details, but I couldn’t bring myself to “confess” that God couldn’t do what He intended to do. It cost me…
The Gospel (Good News) will always cost your “me.” But when I lose “me,” I find “me” in God’s story, singing His song.
Perhaps we’ve started reading our Bibles in the wrong place. We’ve started reading in Chapter two and three with what “me” has done, instead of reading in Chapter one, which describes what God has done. We’ve started with our failure, rather than God’s success. God’s success--what God has done--is always the deepest story. What God has done (which is what he is doing) is so beautiful it’s worth losing everything to
behold – perhaps beholding it, is losing everything. “Whoever loses his psyche (life)… will find it. (Matt.16:25)”
A New Psyche; A New Paradigm; A New Life
You see we all have a “psyche,” a mental map through which we process information. Already, after just a few paragraphs, your mind is filled with conclusions and questions: “Is this guy ‘young earth or old earth?”
“Is he a liberal nut job or a close minded conservative?” “Is he a ‘universalist’ or a ‘fundamentalist’?”
Maybe, I’m none of those things. Maybe, I’m all of those things. You see, each one of those questions, each label, betrays a set of assumptions that constitute a paradigm. Perhaps we must “lose our paradigm to find it.”
I think it was in the movie, the Bad News Bears. The coach lectured the kids saying “Don’t Assume.” He drew it on the chalkboard. “When you assume, you make an
“ass” of “u” and “me”: ass-u-me. (I’m sure by “ass” he meant donkey.) Well
theologians have been making donkeys out of scientists for quite some time. And scientists have been making donkeys out of theologians for almost as long. Unless we surrender our paradigms and psyches we’ll make donkeys of each other, even God, and never see His Kingdom - the finished creation.
Genesis One is the first chapter in the Bible. What if it’s foundational? What if we’ve been reading it through our old psyche and some false paradigms? Well then, our whole house – our whole view of reality - might be crooked… right? It might even keep us from seeing the Kingdom.
Well, it would be wrong for me to simply demand a new paradigm. However I can say, “For Christ’s sake, (Matt 16:25) lose the old one.” For the sake of Jesus, let’s ask some questions of our old paradigm. Then, let’s ask Him to construct a new one. Actually, all our life he is constructing a new one as we die to the old ones. I heard someone say, “To seek the Truth, requires one thing: a persistent willingness to admit that you’re wrong.”
Jesus is the Truth. I believe He is the One Thing we must assume… or be assumed by. If that makes me an… a donkey, so be it. I will be a “fool” for Him. Philosophically speaking, we all have to be a fool for something.1 We all have to assume something or we could never believe anything. We all have to be a fool for something, and I pick him… or He picks me. So for Christ’s sake “Lose your psyche.” Christ said, “Whoever loses his psyche (translated: life) for my sake, will find it. (Matt. 16:25)”
With our psyche (our mental paradigm), we give meaning to all the “facts” in our
world. And all the “facts” in our world inform our psyche (our mental paradigm). Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word; Jesus is the Logos (Greek). Logos means “reason” or “meaning.” The meaning of a story is the plot of that story. So Jesus says, “Lose your psyche for me and you will find it.”… “Lose your psyche and you’ll find my psyche: life.”
Genesis One and John One tell us that God created all things with a Word. That Word – The Meaning, The Reason, The Plot, The Point – is Jesus. He is God’s map to reality. He gives all things their meaning. So I’m asking you to surrender your old paradigm to Jesus. Then, ask Jesus to give new meaning to all your “facts.” He gives
meaning to creation (science) and He gives meaning to Scripture (theology). He gives meaning to you (Life). He is God’s meaning and that meaning was revealed on a cross. There, He was broken for the love of you. God’s meaning is Love: Love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).”
I’m sorry… perhaps I’m getting too philosophical. I’m trying to say that for most of us, the ideas in this book are a bit of a paradigm shift. Paradigm shifts freak us out, for when they happen, it feels like everything has changed, even though none of the “facts” have changed. I think most people are familiar with this sketch:
At first glance some folks see a show girl and some folks see their grandma. When the paradigm shifts, it gives new meaning to all the “facts.” If the paradigm shifts from grandma to the showgirl, suddenly the “nose” turns into a chin, the mouth turns into a necklace and an old wrinkled eye turns into a young woman’s ear… yet none of the “facts” have changed; their meaning has changed.
If we wanted to find out whether this is grandma or the showgirl, we might seek
some more facts. A broader perspective, might uncover more facts: a cane in the woman’s hand or perhaps the sound of show tunes in a theatre. Those new facts would give the paradigm new meaning.
If the picture is the creation of an artist, the testimony of the artist might be even more helpful. The artist might say, “I was drawing your grandma…you dummy.” And well, that would give new meaning to all the “facts.” As a Christian, I believe that God, the author, has testified: “The meaning of all the facts is Jesus,” (John 1:1-18, Col. 1:15-20).
That new “testament” gives meaning to all the “facts.” But even so, all the “facts” inform my understanding of the meaning: Jesus. Once I see that it’s grandma, for instance, that new paradigm gives meaning to the “facts” and the “facts” inform the meaning (i.e. “That’s grandma’s nose AND grandma has a big nose.”) Well our “facts” are the creation all around us. And our “facts” are a letter from the artist, that we call
Scripture. Recently we’ve uncovered many new “facts” and rediscovered many old ones. They all inform our picture of Jesus and Jesus tells us who we are. I’m trying to say, “Trust Jesus. Surrender your old ideas and let him make them new.” “Let there be Light.” Let there be an Epiphany.
Epiphany comes from the Greek word: Epiphaneia. It’s translated “manifestation” or “appearing.” It describes what happens when the light comes on in a dark room. We learned to love Epiphanies when we were children. The light would come on and what we thought was a dragon, was actually the coat rack; what we thought was a monster, was actually the recliner; what we thought meant death, actually meant life. Epiphanies are paradigm shifts from darkness to light. They are wonderful and yet they, themselves, can be terrifying. Sometimes our eyes, minds and psyches have adjusted to the dark. When the light comes on we have to let go of the “meanings” we ascribed to things in the dark; we have to surrender our dark paradigm.
Recently a friend said this to me, “You know we all have paradigms and with each paradigm, we have a bag of exceptions (Like the thought, “That’s not a very good ear, it kind of looks like a saggy old eye.” Or, “Why would a monster look like a recliner?”). When the bag of exceptions gets too heavy, we switch to a new paradigm with fewer exceptions.”
The “Modern” Paradigm
For the last few hundred years we’ve been reading Scripture and Creation through
a very “modernistic” paradigm. When we do, God doesn’t look very much like Jesus. Actually, Jesus doesn’t look very much like Jesus! The Jesus, (The Word in the beginning) and The Jesus, (who conquers in the end), don’t look much like Jesus in the gospels and hanging on the cross: “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” - the full revelation of the Father (1 Cor. 2:1-10), The Meaning of all things (Col. 1:15-20, John 1:1-18)… Well, that’s a pretty big exception.
The “modern” mind takes our own perceptions of space and time very seriously
and “meaning” not so seriously. We tend to view space and time as reality and everything else as metaphor. We think rocks, houses and calendars are truly real, and things like meaning, truth and love are just metaphors. Therefore, we try to make the meaning of a book like Genesis fit our concepts of space and time, rather than trying to make our concepts of space and time fit the meaning of Genesis. We think space and time are more real than “word” or “meaning.” So we construct a box of space and time, and if the “Word” or “Meaning” doesn’t fit, we call it a metaphor (mad scientists are really good at this). Or we crucify the “Word” trying to get it/Him to fit into our box (Pharisees are really good at this). Well, maybe space and time are the metaphor and nothing is more solid than The Word. After all, Genesis One is the story of the creation of all space and time, with just a Word.
The “Post-Modern” (“Pre-Modern”) Paradigm
Well, it should be more than a bit fascinating, that scientists, over the last hundred years or so, have come up with a new set of “facts” that are just begging for a paradigm shift. For an old science geek like me, who used to be terribly embarrassed by Genesis
chapter One, that’s more than a bit comical. It’s glorious. And yet, so many of my fellow believers are afraid to look. The paradigm shift is freaking them out. They haven’t noticed that the paradigms are shifting right back into the world-view of Scripture. They panic and write books about the dangers of “post-modernism” and “relativism.”
Panic sells books. And for some bizarre reason, American Evangelical Christians
tend to be “conservative” without thinking through what they are conserving. Why would we want to conserve a modernistic enlightenment view of reality? Modernism is great for building motor cars and bank accounts, but absolutely terrible at building people! Central to modernism is the idea that the only things that are true are things that can be verified by the scientific method. Love, reason, truth, spirit, you… none of these things can be verified by the scientific method. Actually, belief in the scientific method, can’t be verified by the scientific method--it’s a faith statement: the one thing assumed. Modernism is the idolatry of space and time as we perceive them. It’s the belief that
everything is relative to “our perception” of space and time…2 Now it get’s downright
In the past hundred years or so, scientists using the scientific method, have postulated and validated the fact that space and time are relative and that reality is fundamentally uncertain (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle); that matter doesn’t really matter—which implies that the Scientific Method doesn’t “really” matter (at least not like we thought)… all space, time and matter—all creation—is “relative.”
Christians hear the word “relative” and panic about “relativism” and the loss of absolute truth. We need to do a better job of listening – to scientists and to Scripture. Einstein didn’t say that space and time are relative to nothing. Niels Bohr, (The Einstien of Quantum Physics) didn’t say that subatomic particles are relative to nothing. Einstein postulated, what has been verified through experimentation, that space and time are relative to the speed of light. Scripture tells us that God is Light and Jesus is the Light of the world. Niels Bohr postulated, what has been verified through experimentation, that subatomic particles (the stuff that makes up matter in space and time) are somehow relative to an “observer’s” perception, expectation… or “faith.” An “observer” isn’t a machine, but a person – a spirit that comprehends meaning, or is comprehended by meaning. Remember the biblical term for “meaning” is logos. Logos is translated “word,” and means “meaning.”
Scripture (John 1 and Genesis 1), tells us that The Light created all things with a
Word and that Word is the Light that enlightens all men. The Word became flesh and
dwelt among us full of grace and truth. Space and time are relative to Him, relative to Light and Meaning: the Word. And it gets even better. String Theory, (which is the current best attempt at combining Einstein’s General Relativity and Quantum Physics into a theory of everything), postulates that all reality is the manifestation of vibrations of meaning on one-dimensional superstrings that vibrate in at least eleven dimensions. A word is a “vibration of Meaning” on a string called your vocal chord and in the atmosphere and all around you. “All Creation” is relative to Light, Meaning and Word: For the first time in the past several hundred years, a fellow can take the Bible literally (for lack of a better word) and sound entirely scientific.
And oh yeah… scientists now say, what they never ever would have said, space and time (the old idol) appear to have had a beginning and may just have an end. “Science” has no categories for anything “beyond” space and time; for a beginning or and
end… to space and time. Jesus said, “I AM the alpha and the omega, the beginning and
the end.” He is the Big Bang! That’s an epiphany.
Could it be that “fighting the dragon” we “became the dragon.” (Friedrich Neitsche) I mean could it be that fighting modernism, we Christians became modernists? Have you ever noticed that our picture of Jesus in Genesis (or the Father he reveals) and our picture of the Jesus in The Revelation; the Jesus in the beginning and the end; seems so different than Jesus – I mean the Jesus revealed in the Gospels – the one who touched lepers, ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, suffered and died for our sins, rose from the dead and said, “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.”? Could it be that we have taken our perception of space and time as constant, and “the meaning” as relative… and so crucified “the meaning” to make Him fit into our box... a 4x5 inch box I call my brain? We’ve certainly done that with the End, that is, Jesus in the Revelation (For most modern people, He looks more like John Rambo or the Toxic Avenger, than Jesus of Nazareth –I wrote a book on it, Eternity Now). And I think we’ve also done that with the Beginning, that is, Jesus in Genesis. We’ve been so preoccupied with the age of the earth and dinosaur foot prints, that we’ve lost the meaning: Jesus.
Genesis One: The History of time
. On the seventh day (Gen. 2:1-3), God is “finished” with all the work that he had
done in creation… I think that includes time, at least chronological time. You see it’s my contention that God outlines all of “time” in Genesis 1:1-2:4. That takes care of the old dinosaur problem and a whole lot more…
At the end of the sixth day “everything…is very good.” It’s “finished.”
Are you very good? Are you finished? Have you ever been finished? Perhaps “Everything…very good” hasn’t happened yet?
In fear we think it must have happened. And we messed it up.
So God came up with plan B—the whole Jesus on the cross thing. And now if we don’t screw up maybe we can get back to the garden, even if, God fries some of our relatives forever in Hell. Well Jesus is never plan B.
And if you pay attention to the text, you’ll see: By Genesis 2:7, God is clearly telling the story of the sixth day for He is making “man” (Adam)…Us. That happens on the sixth day. God doesn’t finish making Adam, until the ultimate Adam, “The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15) cries “It is finished,” as he hangs from the ancient tree. Scripture tells us that He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
Perhaps we are never finished until we are “finished” in Him, with faith. So perhaps the seventh day isn’t over.
Perhaps we’ve yet to come to the End.
Perhaps our sinful plan can’t undo God’s good plan
Perhaps it hasn’t… and never did… undo His plan
Perhaps He was never out of control.
Perhaps we’ve yet to see the End and yet to enter the seventh day… except by faith. To enter by faith is to believe the finished work of the cross. It’s to believe the Word, the Logos, the Plot as he cries, “It is finished” and delivers up His Spirit. He is the Beginning and the End. He is the Plot. Faith in Him is Him in you; His Spirit born in you. His Story is History. And His Story becomes your story by grace, revealed as faith. It’s the Genesis
of You, Christ in you…until you are finally finished in Him: until you’re Home: The 7th
You may think, “Nice idea, but do the math: seven days. It’s over. I can count.” Yes, but where are you standing? Physicists tell us: time is relative to where you’re standing, how fast you’re moving and the gravity that surrounds you. They tell us that, six days from one position in the Universe can actually be fourteen billion years from another. Some even argue that six days from the standpoint of our earth is like fourteen billion years from the “standpoint” of the Big Bang.
So are you telling the story or is God telling the story? You see that’s a physics problem and it’s a theological problem. Well once you let God tell the story, everything changes; everything ends at “very good.” Jesus is very good and he is “the End.” Once you believe the end, every moment in your story becomes new and you are new, transformed by the End in you. Epiphany.
Genesis One: The History of You
Genesis 1:1-2:4 a isn’t just the beginning. It’s the beginning and the end and everything in between. It’s the Index to Reality. It’s the history of all time and your time. It’s the big picture, start to finish, that tells you who you are and where you fit. It’s your Father in Heaven, telling you who you are and still speaking His Word of Life into your infant heart. You are His child to be filled with His Love.– Matter doesn’t really “matter,” but you do.
You are His temple to be filled with His Glory.
You are His body to be infused with His blood. You are His bride to be filled with Himself.
You are His child and all creation is a womb groaning in anticipation for the revelation of you! (Rom. 8:22) And whether you know it or not, you are groaning in anticipation for the revelation of Him… “Christ in you”… “formed in you” (Gal.4:19)!
Genesis one is the History of Time and your place in that time, but it’s also the history of that time and it’s place in you. Christ - The Word of God, The Beginning and the End, The Meaning - formed in you. So…
Do you ever feel “formless and void?”
Would you like someone to speak wisdom, meaning and truth into your soul? Would you like to hear, “Let there be light?”
Do you long for someone to separate the troubled waters? For dry land to appear, bearing fruit?
Would you like to discern the seasons and years? Would you like to be made in God’s Image?
Well then… it might be valuable to consult the index, ingest the plot and believe that the author of your story is good.
If the story is good and the author is good, then even the experience of “formless and void” is transformed by that Good. The confusion and sorrow prepare you for the revelation of grace. The nights crying alone in the dark, allow you to see… as God whispers “now let there be light.” The desperate longing is broken soil prepared for an eternal seed that will bear eternal fruit. Even your disobedience; your aimless wondering; your angry defiance… even the void that is your sin, becomes space for the presence of God who is Mercy; it even becomes space for the revelation of you--his child, in His Image: a vessel of Mercy where once there was emptiness and wrath. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV)
“He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10)…including time, all time and your time. He is Good. He is The Word God speaks which makes “everything… good” (Gen. 1:31). “He has made everything beautiful in it’s (His) time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end”
(Ecc.3:11). That was written by Solomon three thousand years ago. But we are those who have met the Beginning and the End, by faith.
“It is finished,” he cried, enthroned on the cross. And from the throne, as a slaughtered lamb standing, the same voice echoes throughout time, “Behold, I make all things new… write this, for these words are trustworthy and true… It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End,” (Rev. 21:5-6). That’s an Epiphany.
A New Paradigm
We need a paradigm shift. For when the paradigm shifts, we get a better glimpse
of God and He is so… Good. So good that when we see the “glory of God shining in the face of Christ,” we lose our selves and find our selves in Him – The Image of God. So, would you surrender your psyche? NOT to me, but to Jesus the Word. Ask Him to guide you through the Word written and through the testimony of creation, in order that you might see Him – the Truth.
If it makes you feel better, I think your paradigm will shift back to some of the views of the Church Fathers and even some of ancient Jewish rabbis, (if you’re worried about “post-modernism,” try “pre-modernism”). Whatever the case, let’s be honest and let’s be biblical. We can only arrive at the Truth by being truthful. He is the Way.
I don’t think the “facts” change. The same clam fossils are in the same sedimentary strata and Scripture is still Scripture – it’s truer than you know. Yet, the paradigm does shift. “It’s not a chorus girl and it’s not an old woman, it’s Jesus.” The paradigm shifts, Jesus shows up and all the facts take on new meaning.
Here are some ideas you may end up letting go: • That the earth is young.
• That the earth is old.
• That you are in control. • Your understanding of “Hell.” • Your understanding of evil. • Your understanding of you. • Your limitations upon God. • That God is distant.
• That God is mean.
• That Jesus’ death and resurrection only kind-of worked. Here are some ideas that may not let you go:
• God is good, all the time. • God is in control, all the time. • Evil cannot win.
• God is not worried. • You don’t need to worry. • Eternity is in your heart.
• You are far more than you know.
• God is everywhere working the wonders of Mercy. • God is always better than you thought.
• Jesus is the Idea, the Word that will not let you go. So for Christ’s sake, may your paradigm shift:
May you no longer see only old women or young show girls.
May you no longer see only space, time, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.
May you no longer see only commandments, memory verses and principles for living.
May you always see Jesus,God’s Word.
When you look at creation, may you see Jesus. When you look at Scripture, may you see Jesus.
When you look into your past, when you look into your future and when you look into the mirror this day, may you see Jesus.
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” wrote St. Paul. “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God.” (Gal. 2:20, Col. 1:15)
“…God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” (Gen. 1:26)
“So shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to Me void.” (Is.55:11 NKJV)
“By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a Word that shall not return: ‘To Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue swear allegiance.’” (Is. 45:23) “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)
1. If God is a person and not simply some “life force” or interstellar gas, it makes sense that He’d set things up this way: such that we’d have to assume something in this world; such that we’d have to be a fool for something or someone. My wife doesn’t want to be explained. She wants to be known. She doesn’t want me to figure her out. She wants me to be a “fool for her love.” I think that’s called faith.
2. Everything is not relative to “our perception of space and time.” However, and very ironically, everything may be relative to “your perception of space and time” at least in some form. We’ll talk about this much more in body of this book, but according to Quantum Mechanics, to some degree, an “observer” does create something of reality. An observer “creates” subatomic particles, which are the building blocks of all matter.
Why an “observer” doesn’t create their entire reality is a mystery for Quantum Physicists… and why we all seem to exist in the same reality is an even greater mystery. It’s like we’re junior creators, being observed by another creator. If that were the case, the only way that we could truly all live together in one creation is if we all “willed” the same reality… perhaps that’s exactly what’s happening. We are all learning to love Love. The will of our creator is Love. His Kingdom is Love. And we are predestined to Love in Freedom.
As you read: In the body of this manuscript I quote a fair amount of Scripture and have
tried to provide references in parenthesis for those who are interested. Hopefully that won’t be distracting. I suggest tuning the references out, unless something catches your attention and you’d like to investigate further.
I would also suggest reading slowly and perhaps a few times. We’re describing pictures on top of pictures; stories on top of stories. The Gospel is being told in all creation, the story of Israel, the story of your life, and of course the life of Christ. Think Big and read slowly.
Questions Too Big for Any S
Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
That’s a bit different from what I learned in school. Matt Stone attended the same school as me - a bit later - but the same school: Heritage High School in Littleton Colorado. I don’t know where He went to grade school, but his memories sound a lot like mine. Matt Stone and one other fellow are the creators of South Park… you know, the raunchy cartoon everyone loves to boycott.
On a recent episode, Mr./Ms. (He has “identity issues”) Garrison explains the theory of evolution to his/her class. He/she points to a diagram and says:
“Now, I for one think that evolution is a bunch of bull crap, but I’ve been told I have to teach it anyway. It was thought of by Charles Darwin, and it goes something like this:
“In the beginning, we were all fish. OK? …swimming around in the water. And then one day a couple fish had a retard baby, and the retard baby was different, so it got to live. So retard fish goes on to make more retard babies, and then one day a retard baby fish crawled out of the ocean with it’s mutant fish hands, and it had #%** sex with a squirrel or something and made this retard frog squirrel. And then that had a retard baby, which was a monkey fish frog, and then this monkey fish frog had #%** sex with that monkey, and then that monkey had a mutant retard baby, that $%*#@^! another monkey, and that made you. So there you go. You’re the offspring of five monkeys having #%** sex with a fish squirrel. Congratulations.
(I’m sorry… that’s disturbing for some, but a fairly common belief.Mr./Ms. Garrison’s remarks may not be entirely accurate from a scientific perspective, but they’re quit insightful from a philosophical one.)
Well, as luck would have it, Mr./Ms. Garrison goes on a date with Richard Dawkins the renowned atheist. Dawkins pulls out the now famous “Flying Spaghetti Monster” argument, (It’s the idea that an inability to disprove something does not imply existence.) Mr./Mrs. Garrison exclaims,“I totally get it now: Evolution explains everything! There’s no great mystery to life, just evolution, and God’s a Spaghetti Monster. Thank you, Richard!”
Mr./Ms. Garrison then has Richard Dawkins come explain evolution to his/her class. He explains, “You must understand children, that we are dealing with very large numbers here. So evolution doesn’t even happen by chance. It is, in fact, bound to happen.” Mr./Ms. Garrison chimes in “That’s right, kids. And so, you see, there is no God.” Fourth grader Stan Marsh can’t take it anymore, he interrupts, “Well, there could still be a God.” Then He says:
We can debate that, but it is a rather insightful observation. Of course the powers that be don’t think so. Stan is placed in a corner with a dunce cap on his head. Across the top, in bold letters, is printed: I HAVE FAITH.
Like I said, Matt Stone, one of the two creators of South Park, went to my high school, (I’ve got that going for me.) So I’ve wondered if Matt had Mr. Roberts in 11th grade like I did. Mr. Roberts taught history not science, but he thought he understood science. Mr. Roberts thought it was his mission to undo the faith of his students. I think he thought, arriving at truth, is all about destroying faith… of course that’s a statement of faith, but I doubt Mr. Roberts understood that. I don’t think I understood it at the time.
It was that year, that I had a crisis of faith (in God). One night, I locked myself in the upstairs bathroom of our house in Littleton, dropped to my knees beside the bathtub. Sobbing, I cried out to God, “God, I don’t think I can believe in you any more.”
I cried out to God, and I felt an emptiness—a chaos, “formless and void,” in the pit of my stomach. I struggled to put words to it then, but my heart knew: If there was no God, there was no truth and there was no reason, no purpose, no beauty, no goodness, no love, no me. And everything was nothing. . . zero. A cipher.
Jean Mizer was driving behind the Milford Corners school bus one cold February morning when it veered to one side and the door flew open. A boy lurched out and collapsed in the snow, dead. At school, no one seemed to know him.
Jean Mizer was a teacher at the Milford Corners School. The principal asked her to inform the boy’s family. When she asked, “Why me?” the principal informed her, “Cliff Evans listed you as his favorite teacher.” His favorite teacher, she thought. He hadn’t spoken two words to her all year. He always sat alone in the back.
When she arrived at his home, his stepfather snorted, “He ain’t said nothin’ about anything since I moved in here. If Cliff hadn’t been so dumb, he’d ’ve told us he didn’t feel so good.” Jean Mizer writes:
After school I sat in the office and stared blankly at the records spread out before me. I was to read the file and write the obituary for the school paper. The almost bare sheets mocked the effort. Cliff Evans, white, never legally adopted by stepfather, five young half-brothers and sisters. These meager strands of information and the list of D grades were all the records had to offer. . . . As far as I could tell, he had never done one happy, noisy kid thing. He had never been anybody at all.
How do you go about making a boy into a zero? The grade-school records showed me. The first and second grade teachers’ annotations read, “Sweet, shy child,” “timid but eager.” Then the third grade note had opened the attack. Some teacher had written in a good, firm hand, “Cliff won’t talk. Uncooperative. Slow learner.” The other academic sheep had followed with “dull,” “slow-witted,” “low IQ.” They became correct. The boy’s IQ score in the ninth grade was listed at 83. But his IQ in the third grade had been 106. The
score didn’t go under 100 until the seventh grade. Even the shy, timid, sweet children have resilience. It takes time to break them. . . .
I could guess how many times he’d been chosen last to play sides in a game, how many whispered child conversations had excluded him, how many times he hadn’t been asked. I could see and hear the faces that said over and over, “You’re nothing, Cliff Evans.”
A child is a believing creature. Cliff undoubtedly believed them. Suddenly it seemed clear to me: When finally there was nothing left at all for Cliff Evans, he collapsed on a snow bank and went away. The doctor might list heart failure as the cause of death, but that wouldn’t change my mind.1
How do you turn a boy into nothing?
Well, obviously there are many ways (that are all really one way). School might be one of those ways. School is where you go to learn “truth.”
In the western world, we’ve come to believe you learn the truth by taking things apart and looking at the pieces. Truth is what you can objectively observe in a controlled environment, according to the scientific method.
So what’s the truth about Cliff Evans? Well, take him apart, dissect him, look at the parts, incinerate the pieces, do a chemical analysis, and you will find calcium, carbon, oxygen, and a lot of water. And that’s the objective truth about Cliff. He’s something like $49.00 worth of chemicals and some water.
“Yah,” you say, “but now he’s dead. What about living? What is life?”
“Well, life is the replication of complex chemical patterns called DNA” we answer… or have been taught to answer. “The specialists have analyzed the fossil sequence and concluded it happens by chance in a closed system.” A bunch of mutant, monkey fish frogs . . . then you!
Does it matter? “Do I matter?” asks Cliff Evans. “What matters is the survival of the fittest.”
Then Cliff was picked last in baseball.
Then Cliff was graded on a curve, and he was at the bottom. Maybe Cliff was learning the lesson best, indeed taking it to heart. He wasn’t fit to survive.
But even if he was fit, why would it matter? Things only matter if they matter to someone who matters. And who do all the “someones” matter to that makes them matter? God, perhaps?
Well no. Not if I follow the “reasoning” I learned in school. It can’t even be true that God exists. If the only things that are “true” are things “observed” through the scientific method—that is, matter and energy—God cannot exist, by definition. For God is not matter or energy. How could He be if he supposedly made them both? So God does not exist… And I do not exist. I do not exist for I can’t observe the me that is doing the observing. I can’t verify me. I can’t observe the I that is observing me.
If all there is, is matter and energy, then there is no God, no I, no truth, no scientific method . . . for none of those things can be validated with the scientific method,
including the scientific method! I might as well step off the bus and cease to exist . . .
because I don’t. Nothing.
Is there a God?
See? I’m just pointing out that an awful lot rides on that question,
including our very ability to even ask the question.
It’s a very big question, far too big for any specialists like Charles Darwin or Richard Dawkins. Dawkins may know everything about the DNA of a clam but absolutely nothing about what anything means… for technically there is no such thing as “meaning.” Has anyone ever objectively, empirically validated the concept “meaning” in a controlled scientific environment? Can “meaning” even matter? For it’s not matter.
Is there a God?
The way we modern people try to answer that question is absurd.
If you would, imagine that I am God. (It’s something I ask my family to do every now and then.) Just imagine that I’m God and I hold the Universe in my hands. Picture a shoe box, but it’s the Universe… OK? All space, all time, all matter is in the box: the universe. I AM not in the box but holding the box. Now sing: “He’s got the whole world in His hands (4x).” Good class.
Now, let me tell you about the universe—the box in my hands: Recent estimates are that the universe is 156 billion light years across. That is, if the universe were not still expanding, it would take light 156 billion years to go from one side to the other. Scientists tell us that we can only see 14 billion light years away, because the universe began 14 billion years ago. That is, we can’t even see the vast majority of the universe, for the light hasn’t even reached us yet.
• The universe is 156 billion light years across.
• Our solar system is .00126 light years across (the orbit of Pluto). • Our solar system is 7.5 trillion miles across.
• So our solar system is 117.5 quadrillion times smaller in width than our universe.
If the entire universe were the size of planet Earth, our solar system would be about 1/70,000 of an inch wide. It would be about 1/6 as wide as a small bacteria.
The solar system: 7.5 trillion miles across, as wide as 1/6 of a small bacteria, if the universe is scaled down to just the size of the earth. But I’m asking you to imagine the universe in this box. Got it?
Now imagine that a man in the utterly miniscule speck that is our solar system, on the unimaginably miniscule speck that is our planet, in one particular spot, at one particular time, examines some clam fossils. He is a specialist in fossilized cretaceous mollusks. Then based on what he “empirically” and “objectively” observes, he writes a book stating, “There is no God,” that is, there is no one holding the box.
So, all the modern, technologically advanced, scientific people say, “Well, he is an expert . . . so that must be truth.”
That’s absurd, isn’t it? It’s absurd because some questions are way too big for any specialist. Yet some specialist invariably says, “We’ve examined the clam fossils and have concluded that there is no God.”
So what do we Christians do? We call in our own specialists who go out to the same spot and analyze the same clam fossils and say, “There’s a lack of transitional forms in the clam sequence; therefore, God exists. Someone’s holding the box.” Then all of us modern, technologically advanced, religious people say, “There is a God because
our specialists say so . . . our scientists have concluded: God Exists!”
In the words of C. S. Lewis:
The statement that there is [a God] and the statement that there is no [God] are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them. After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, “Why is there a universe?” “Why does it go on as it does?” “Has it any
meaning?” would remain just as they were?2
In the words of fourth-grader Stan Marsh in South Park, “Couldn’t evolution be the answer to how and not the answer to why?”
I heard that Einstein once asked his class, “How much of the universe do you suppose we comprehend?” Someone said, “Five percent.” Einstein said, “I think that’s way too much, but even so, who’s to say God couldn’t exist somewhere in the other 95%?” Well, Christians don’t even believe He’s an object in the other 95%. They believe He’s outside the universe; outside of space and time; outside the box, holding the box. He’s the Creator of the box. Why would we even expect him to be a thing in the box that He created?
When people ask, “Is there a God?” theologian Emil Brunner argued that perhaps we ought to answer,
“No. ‘there is’ no God! … ‘there is’ a planet Uranus, [likewise, ‘there is’ clam sequence in cretaceous sediment] …But ‘there is’ no God. God is neither an object of scientific observation nor something that we can insert in the treasure of our knowledge, as one mounts a rare stamp in a special
place in an album…”3
Even if you understood every individual part of a Ford motor car, took it apart and analyzed each piece, you still wouldn’t find Henry Ford. And the car would no longer run. You would’ve dissected it. Yet a whole Ford motor car is a beautiful testimony to a person named Henry Ford.
God may not be a thing in His world,
yet the whole thing can bear testimony to it’s maker.
A composer is not a note in his symphony, but if you have the capacity to hear the symphony and not just individual notes, the symphony bears testimony to the composer and gives meaning to each note. If you specialize in a note, you may never hear the symphony.
Imagine if you were at the symphony and commented, “Oh, wasn’t that a wonderful symphony!” and a man says, “There was no symphony. I’m a specialist. I specialize in D flat; I have studied the note D flat. I didn’t hear a symphony.”
Some people specialize in calcium, carbon, and oxygen, but perhaps Cliff Evans was more than calcium, carbon, and oxygen. Perhaps he was a testimony to his maker. Perhaps calcium, carbon, and oxygen are not what Cliff Evans is but just what Cliff Evans is made of.
If Modern man wants to know a tree he cuts it down and counts its rings. If he wants to know a frog, he cuts it in pieces and analyzes its parts. If he wants to know a wife… well modern men aren’t so good at knowing wives. If he wants to know Cliff Evans, he can dissect him, call in the specialists, analyze the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen… but is that still Cliff Evans? How do you know a tree, a frog, a wife, Cliff Evans, or God?
Certain questions are way too big for any specialist: “Is there a God?” “Do I matter?” Do not concede those questions to any specialist or any expert . . . biologist, geologist, pastor, or theologian. They can’t answer the question for you, and they’re not supposed to.
So how do you answer the question “Is there a God who made the world?” By looking in the world? By taking it apart and analyzing the pieces? How do you find God in the world that He has made?
Well, you can’t . . . unless, of course, God decides to find you in the world that He has made . . . unless, of course, God decides to speak to you through the world He has made, giving you the capacity to hear the symphony.
Imagine if I spoke to the people in my box universe: “Hey, people! How’s it going, eh? Hang in there. Love you guys!” Well, everything and everyone everywhere and everywhen would vibrate with the sound of my words. People in the box might say “Did you hear the word: ‘Love you guys…’ Did you hear the word?” Yet my word would not simply be a thing in the box. So people couldn’t say, “Here it is!” or “There it is! I found the Word!... or the One who is speaking.” You wouldn’t “find” the word, but the word would find you.
That’s all a bit fascinating when you take a look at Scripture. “In the beginning God created.” The Hebrew actually reads, “In the beginning of,” without an object for the preposition. The King James translators simply dropped the preposition, “of”. Other translators, some ancient translators, took the word translated “in the beginning of,” to be a compound word meaning “with first wisdom.” Thus the ancient Jerusalem translation of Gen. 1:1 into Aramaic reads, “With wisdom God created…”4 I don’t know which
translation is right, but I do know that God creates with Wisdom… and that Wisdom is also a Word.
• Psalm 104 says, “God made all his works with wisdom.”
• In Genesis 1, God speaks creation into existence. Speaking is breath that carries
wisdom encoded in vibrations we call words.
• In John 1:1, John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
Logos in Greek means: meaning, logic, reason, wisdom, word. John goes on to
say that Word contains life, and the Life is the light of men. The Word is logic, meaning, reason, truth, life, and light. And Scripture is clear that God does not only create with His Word; He maintains and sustains all things with this Word. The box is upheld by this Word. So God is continually speaking into the box (His creation). In fact, all creation is like the manifestation of His Word.
One Word, One Verse, Uni-Verse
Now, that all sounds ridiculous to modern minds, but lately it’s all begun to sound rather like science . . . special relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory: the theory that all particles are like vibrations of meaning on superstrings that exist in at least eleven or twelve dimensions. “Vibrations of meaning” . . . that’s what a word is! Scientists have become so specialized that they’ve analyzed the smallest things that make up all things, and now they say all things are like no things in this world…and that might testify to something out of this world:
• Physicists don’t know what light is, but they say everything is relative to it or even
made of it. Scripture says God is light.
• Scientists don’t know what a person is, but every quantum particle in this universe is
dependent on some person (spirit) observing it . . . who can’t be observed. Scientists can’t observe “spirit.” They can only observe bodies, not persons. God is a person and observes all.
• Scientists don’t know what meaning is, but some say that everything is like the
manifestation of meaning – vibrations of meaning on “super-strings”. The Bible says everything is like the manifestation of Word. That Word “was with God” and “the Word is God.” Paul writes, “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts
17:28) Indeed we swim in God, like fish in water.
Somebody wrote: “We’re not sure who discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t fish.” [footnote]Fish don’t say, “Oh, here it is!” or “There it is! I found water!” Yet
everywhere they go, they assume it.
The Question Assumes the Answer
We swim in God. So to even ask the question, is to assume the answer.
• If you ask, “Is God real?” you must assume reality. Perhaps, God is Reality.
• If you ask, “Is God true?” you must assume truth. Scripture claims that God is Truth.
• If you ask, “Is God good?” I think you’re asking, “Is Good, good?” because God is
When Richard Dawkins says, “It is true that there is no God,” he is saying, “It is true that there is no truth.” In other words, “My statement has no meaning.”
God is truth.
It wasn’t until years later, that I realized what I had done. Did you notice? In high school, when I told God: “I don’t think I can believe in you,” I was talking to the One in whom I thought I didn’t believe. You see I had already encountered Him and just by asking the question, I assumed the answer.
So “Is there a God?” is not a question evolution can answer, science can answer, or any specialist can answer. Some questions are far too big for any specialist…or maybe even you.
So how are we to answer?
Maybe we can’t . . . but He can in us. Maybe He’s doing it all the time. Maybe we can’t prove God but He’s proving us: “making us in His image.” Maybe we can’t comprehend God, but He is comprehending us: revealing Himself to us, answering His question in us . . .
Every time we ask, “Is it true?” Every time we seek meaning. Every time we yearn for love.
Every time we weep for someone like Cliff Evans and ask, “Does he matter?” and every fiber in your being vibrates with the answer: Yes!
So how are we to answer? Not by sight (our objective, detached observation), but by faith (our subjective encounter with the living God). Kind of like how we answer the question, “Do you like the symphony?” or “Do you know your wife?”
And then this is the choice:
1. God is not, and everything is absurd, including the question; Or… 2. God is, and everything matters, including every boy and every clam.
The choice is between “absurd” and “not absurd,” yet to even conceive of the idea of “absurd” means that we’ve conceived of the idea of “not absurd,” that is “truth.” We’ve conceived of “truth?” Perhaps I should say, Truth has conceived us.
See? It’s a question with an answer that finds you… or I should say, “has already found you,” for otherwise you couldn’t ask the question.
The Question with an Answer that’s Found You
You know, a clam fossil can’t answer the question “Is there a God?” Yet once you’ve answered it, even a clam fossil is a testimony to its maker, (a “fact” endued with meaning). Once you’ve answered the question, all of science is a testimony to her maker. I think it’s a tragedy that so many Christians are afraid of science . . . and clam fossils.
When my kids were little and we had nothing to do, I used to take them hunting for fossilized Inoceramus clams. You can find them in upper cretaceous limestone beds just down the bike path from our house. Our garage used to be full of them. They’re like five inches across – totally cool. Some people think these clams are a few thousand years old. I think they’re 80 million years old…and much younger than a few thousand years old, but we’ll write more about that later.
The first time I took my son Jonathan, I kept showing him what they looked like, but he couldn’t seem to find any. So finally I found a nice one, set it on a ledge, and said, “Hey, buddy, this is a good spot. Come look over here.”
Well, pretty soon I heard him yelling, “Oh, wow! Daddy! Daddy! I found one!” Jon cradled that clam in his arms like a treasure.
Some people would say, “Listen, Jon, these fossils are tricks played by the Devil,
to make you think the world is older than it is, to make you doubt God’s Word.” Some
people would say, “Listen, Jon, these fossils prove there is no God.” But I said something like this:
Hey, Jon, just think! About 80 million years ago, there was a warm, shallow ocean right in this spot. Giant sea creatures swam in that ocean above this spot, and dinosaurs walked on the beach to the west of this spot. God made it all, and then He made this clam on the bottom of that sea. He buried it here in the mud, and the mud turned to rock. It was here when the dinosaurs became extinct and the mountains pushed up. It was here when God made Adam and Eve; it was here when Jesus walked the earth; it was here while kingdoms rose and kingdoms fell. And when God buried it here in this spot, do you know what He was thinking about? He was thinking about you . . . and the day you would ride your bike down the bike path,
climb this hill, find this clam, pick it up, and say, “Wow!” You see, Jon, you must matter to Him… a lot.
Jon found the fossil
because the Father used the fossil to find Jon’s heart.
You may be seeking the Father, but with all creation
the Father is seeking your heart.
And now you may say, “OK, stop. I see how you can postulate the existence of God. But how do you postulate a God like that with a heart like that—the heart of a Father . . . like you know Him?”
The Question with an Answer that’s Finding You
God speaks a Word with which He creates and sustains all things. Christians also believe that at the right time, in the right place, that Word “became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) And we met Him.
God is not simply an object in the box. Yet at one point, He made Himself an object in the box. I should say He made Himself a person in the box. But, you see, a person is not simply an object in the box (just $49.00 worth of chemicals and some water).
He made Himself a person in the box, and when He did, we hated Him. We reduced Him and tried to take Him apart. We dissected Him on a cross. We didn’t know Him and couldn’t know Him, but He knew us. And on that cross He revealed His glory. And we beheld His glory for He sent his Spirit into our hearts crying “Abba, Daddy, Father.”
Because of the Word all around you and in your heart, you can recognize the Word hanging on the cross. You can recognize God’s heart and so hear God the Father. You can say, “He’s the meaning, the reason, the way, the truth, the life, the light, the treasure! He is God, and God is Love bleeding grace for me. He is my maker, and now I
know Him. Now I found Him because He found me. My Father found me!
… He found me, long before I knelt by the bathtub and told Him He wasn’t there. Why would I speak to Him if he wasn’t there? Truth is, He’d been whispering to me every day of my life, in every sunset, in every hug from my Mom, even in sorrow and loss He was shaping my longing for him. Through all these things He was speaking to me finding me “in the box.”
Jesus: God in the Box
Before my first son Jonathan was born, I used to speak to him in “the box.” I used to speak to him in my wife’s womb. I’d say “Little scooter, I can’t wait to meet you. We painted your room today. We prepared your place today.” I’d sing to him in my wife’s womb. When I’d sing, when I’d speak, everything in Jonathan’s world would move. The
umbilical chord, the placenta, the amniotic fluid, it would all vibrate with my word, my song.
Jonathan was born almost six weeks early. My wife had a brutal day—a full day of labor. My son Jonathan did as well. When he was finally born, he had a black eye and his head had been squeezed into the shape of a cone. Those contractions must have hurt like hell – they were preparing his lungs to breath air in a new world – they served a glorious purpose but they hurt. Yet even in the pain, the muscles of my wife’s womb would vibrate with the sound of my voice: “Your OK buddy, soon and very soon you’ll be here with us.”
When Jon was finally born, they took him from my wife, cleaned him up and wrapped him in a blanket. He would not stop crying. Several nurses held him and he would not stop crying… except for me. They placed him in my arms. The nurse said “talk to him, he knows your voice.” I spoke his name… and he stopped. He knew my voice.
He came to know it in the womb. He knew my voice and now he felt my touch. He saw my face, as I told him his story: “I love you, Jonathan.”
When those contractions were the worst, I wish that I could’ve been with him, as not only a word, but a word in flesh… like another baby in the womb: one like him – one he could see, touch and understand. I couldn’t. But God can, and God did.
God is Jonathan’s true Father. Jonathan is still being born.
You have been born into this world of space and time. You are being born out of this world of space and time. The Word of the Father surrounds you and that Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of Grace and Truth: The Word, The Plot, The Beginning and End… with us, Jesus. He comes from “the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18 RSV). He reveals the Father’s heart—broken on a cross, for the love of you—the Father’s Word, to you. When Christ rose from the dead, He said, “I’m going to my Father and your Father.”
The question: “Is there a God?” is the same question as “Do I want to be born? Am I willing to be God’s creation—His child? He wants you to want him,
not because you discovered him in a chemistry lab;
not because you deduced him in a philosophy class;
not because you’re terrified that He’ll fry your buns in Hell. He wants you to want Him because you fell in love with His voice, His Word, even in the womb. His word is Jesus. His word is Love.
“Is there a God?” It’s the same question as “Do I want to live by faith in His grace?” If there is a Creator of everything and me, then everything and me, is Grace. If there is a Father, than I am a child. Children live by faith in grace.
“Is there a God?” “Do I like Grace?” “Do I like Jesus?” They are the same question.
Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes
1. “Cipher in the Snow” is a “true story” written by Jean Mizer in 1964. It was made in to a short film by Brigham Young University in 1973. I’ve heard the story in a variety of contexts and read the story most recently at http://www.wiktel.net/dgray/cipher.html.
2. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: MacMillan, 1943), 32.
3. Emil Brunner, Our Faith, trans. John Rilling, (New York: Scribners, 1954), 1.
4. Gerald L. Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth, (New York: Free Press, 2001) p. 9
The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible. ~ Albert Einstein
There is nothing but God's grace. We walk upon it; we breathe it; we live and die by it; it makes the nails and axles of the universe.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman's argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out . . . He understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding . . . Evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism.
~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith
In short, to demonstrate the existence of someone who already exists is the most shameless assault. It is an attempt to make him ludicrous. The trouble is that one does not even suspect this, that in dead seriousness one even regards it as a godly undertaking. How could it occur to anyone to demonstrate that God exists unless one has already allowed himself to ignore him? A king's existence is demonstrated by way of subjection and submissiveness. Do you want to try and demonstrate that the king exists? Will you do so by offering a string of proofs, a series of arguments? No. If you are serious, you will demonstrate the king's existence by your submission, by the way you live. And so it is with demonstrating God's existence. It is accomplished not by proofs but by worship. Any other way is but a thinker's pious bungling.
~Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
A group was enjoying the music at a Chinese restaurant. Suddenly a soloist struck up a vaguely familiar tune; everyone recognized the melody, but no one could remember its name. So they beckoned to the splendidly clad waiter and asked him to find out what the musician was playing. The waiter waddled across the floor, then returned with a look of triumph on his face and declared in a loud whisper, "Violin!" The scholar's contribution to spirituality!