Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Power, Wisdom, and Understanding

Have you ever wondered about Creation? You've heard, no doubt, that it was God's design by wisdom. That He weaved this whole thing together just right because He imagined it just so and He labored to get it perfect (although, as we saw yesterday, perfect was only ever good). I never really thought much about Creation beyond that, but a passage in Jeremiah recently dropped my jaw over the whole thing.

As if you thought God couldn't get any better....  Here's the verse:

The Lord made the earth by his power. He set up the world by his wisdom. He stretched out heaven by his understanding.  (51:15)

Break this down. Start with the Creation story in Genesis. Once upon a time, there was chaos. Then God made light and separated it from the darkness so He could see what He was doing. Then He brought together the earth and separated it from the heavens. You know all those images we have of God as Holy Potter (oooh..that would make a great mystical adventure series...Holy Potter....). Now is a good time to dust off those images. Imagine God, before you even existed, holding the masses of what would be earth in the palm of His hand, pressing and pushing and shaping and molding and trying to get the whole darned thing to stick together. If you've ever created anything with clay, you know it takes power to bring it all together. With the power in His hand, He formed the earth. It was the only way.

Now He had a world, but what to do with it? God is a brilliant Creator, but unless you make something dynamic, it either never grows or else grows wild and requires your constant creative attention. (Think: a painting that never changes or an elaborate landscape that needs pruning.) God wanted neither. He wouldn't settle for a world that never changes; He wasn't interested in staring egotistically at His creation for all eternity and admiring His own handiwork. He wanted an interaction. He craved a relationship. At the same time, as gifted a Creator as God is, He's primarily a Lover. He didn't want to spend all His time pruning, shaping, and reshaping things to keep them just right as the world grew. So what does He do? He sets up the world by His wisdom. He makes it a dynamic place, but self-correcting. He sets the parameters for growth but includes checks and balances. He makes a flower to bloom and die and drop its seed to bloom again so He doesn't have to make another flower. He sets the air temperature and the properties of water just right to make consistent, nourishing rain so He doesn't have to keep filling up His watering can. He sets the earth on an axis to rotate and revolve as it distributes the light and the heat, the dark and the cool just right to sustain every living thing in just its right place so He doesn't have to keep spinning this thing. He makes creation to sustain itself so He is free to love, which is what He always wanted to do. He foresaw the obstacles to that, as a Creator, and by His wisdom, set things up to avoid that problem. It was the only way.

The earth spins and moves and lives and dies and grows on its own, and the Creator is free to love. But what is Love? How does a man, a small fragment of Creation, experience Love? With a welcome and a promise and a hope. God knew it would be easy for us to look around down here, to see the way things run on their own, and to conclude that this is just how it is. This is natural. This is nature. This is how we are. Who needs a God for that? But there's not a lot of hope there, either. There's nothing welcoming about being in a place where you're just part of the machine. There's nothing encouraging, there's no promise of anything greater than nature deems fit. It's kind of...blah. It's dreary. It's dull. It certainly isn't love. But God knew it would be easy for us to think this way, so He devised a way to include Himself. He found a way to make Love the thing, instead of making this thing He made the thing. He stretched out heaven. Knowing we would need to see. Knowing we would need to hope. Knowing we would need to dream. He stretched out eternity and infinity and Immaculate before us so that we could see. He understood we'd need to see it to even remember Him. He understood we'd need the hope, the assurance, the promise that is this greater thing. So in His understanding, He stretched it out for us. It was the only way.

This passage changed my view of the Creation story. It makes the whole thing more intimate for me. It makes God more incredible. To know that He wasn't, like I so often do, just pulling pieces together to make a thing be what He imagined it might be, but that this was actually a process. By His power, making the place. By His wisdom, making the mechanism. By His understanding, making the way. All in the name of Love.

I'm speechless.

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