We exist. (Duh.) Seriously, though, we exist. I cannot get past these two words. “Exist” is so huge, encapsulates so much of what it is to be alive, and yet, it cannot possibly truly describe what it means.
Let me explain what little I know about the retina. Light (which I cannot possibly explain) reflects off of different things (which I did not, could not create) to produce color in all shades and textures (in ways that don’t make sense)—the “image” of that thing the light reflects off of is inverted within our eyeball and then our brain rights it.
Read that again. I think of that and furrow my brow—what on earth? Why the upside-down part? How the image? What’s with the goo in the middle of the eye? And why, oh why, is that little, tiny retina built of different stuff than the rest of the back of the eye? And why does our brain know which way is truly up? And how, exactly, is it that when there is disturbance in the retina, the brain, after a while, just ignores it as if it isn’t there. Seriously. As a woman with a retina issue that can be seen by my doc, my brain no longer notices it. The brain was actively involved in freaking out when spots were appearing in my vision, when I was losing letters in words as I read, and when the computer screen was seeming to ever-so-slightly flicker, but only for one eye. It’s what sent me to the doc. But now, over a year later, the brain just ignores it all so that my vision is “normal”. The thing is still on the retina—the doc still looks at it every so often to make sure it doesn’t change—but my brain no longer sweats it.
What on earth?!?
So what does this have to do with creation? A lot. How would you have designed the eye? Don’t know? Exactly my point. God is bigger than you. He is bigger than me. Let’s face it—He understands light and I can’t possibly begin to imagine.
And in very simplistic terms, that alone baffles me enough to recognize that God is bigger than me. He created me. And I just don’t get it.
This, my friends, is the beginning of faith—getting that we just don’t get it. Knowing that we don’t know. And seeking the One who created it, marveling in His process, appreciating the purpose, and recognizing His hand as He re-creates our lives every day.
PROCESS OF CREATION
Creation is amazing. Even making something as simple as a hamburger requires time, energy, and actual *doing*. The earth was not created in the same way.
Read Genesis 1:1 through 2:3. According to this passage, how did God create the world?
Though it seems obvious, I think we sometimes forget how much bigger God is than us. To create something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we have to actually do work in order to accomplish that task. God only has to speak, and the entire world came into place. Try that in your kitchen and see how far that gets you to creating a sandwich.
What does this mean to you that God is so much bigger than you?
What struggles in your life are you trying to “do” your way out of?
Do you really get that God could just speak and they could go away? Have you asked Him for that? Why not?
I am not saying that He will make them go away with a word—but what if He did? What if it was within His will to do that, if only you would ask? What if you believed that He might?
This is where faith meets work. Faith believes that God might actually do that. Yet we limit Him. We judge ourselves guilty and therefore do not ask Him for help. We judge Him “too big to care”, which is really saying He does not care, and so we do not ask. We judge ourselves too little, too angry, too whatever—and as a result we miss out on powerful acts of God brought about because what He really wanted was for His people to have faith.
In what areas do you need to set yourself aside and ask Him for His perspective? He may very well say that it is yours to manage—and He very well may say He will take care of it. But you will never know until you ask:
Now, do not use this as a new battering ram to judge yourself faithless. This is not about you. This is about your view of God. Re-align your view of God with the true reality of who He is and what He is capable of doing.
LAYERS OF CREATION
Review Genesis 1:1 through 2:3. The world was not created in one day, but in six. (Biblical scholars debate the definition of “day”, but let’s face it, God is still bigger than you and I. Whether a day is 24 hours or a day is an era, He still did more than you and I could ever do. So let’s leave the old earth/young earth debate for a different time.) Back to the point at hand: God created the earth, but not all at once.
Reviewing this passage, list out the order of the acts of creation.
God did not create everything in one moment. He took steps, He designed in layers. He built the foundation of the garden before He ever created a man to tend that garden. He provided food before He created animals and man who would need that food. Everything happened in ordered steps. One layer built on another layer.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the same way He orders our lives.
Read I Corinthians 13:8-12. What are the contrasts this passage describes about now and a time to come?
If our very lives are designed in layers, if what we know now is not what we will know in times to come, and if what we do now will someday be seen as just another example of “when I was a child”, how is it that we continue to believe that God should give us exactly what we want exactly when we want it?
I bake quite a bit. And I marvel when I compare my perspective on faith to the logic of baking. In life, so often I want the whipped cream without realizing that the dessert isn’t even in the oven. Yet if someone suggested that to me while I was baking, they would get the raised eyebrow in a “yeah, that’s not going to work” fashion. And on I would bake, knowing that I knew better than the one who made the request. I wonder how often God gives me that same eyebrow. I wonder how often the requests I make are asking for the last step in the process without taking into consideration all the layers that must happen before that step has a chance at being successful.
What areas of your life are you asking for the end of the process rather than the foundational layers?
Re-read I Corinthians 13:8-13 (adding verse 13 this time). All of these contrasts happen in what over-arching context?
Love. God longs for us to make requests and engage in prayerful conversations with Him. He longs for us to choose Him over all other things. And in that time, He imparts His wisdom, His knowledge, and His understanding to us. Like a mentor helping his protégé, God longs to have that relationship with us. Where my raised eyebrow may accompany a shaking of the head, God’s raised eyebrow accompanies a twinkle in the eye, excited for how each of us will learn from the layers of whatever He is teaching us.
Genesis serves as a powerful example of God’s thoughtful, ordered, planned approach to our world and our lives. The next time you are seeking something from day 6 (or even 7!), remember, there just may be days of creation yet to happen before that request can be filled in a way that can be called “good” in His sight.
PURPOSE OF CREATION
We briefly explored the layers of creation and how God has an ordered plan for bringing about wonderful things. One element that we temporarily overlooked is the purpose behind it all. One can have an ordered way of doing things without ever having a real purpose. One example from the more extreme end of the scale is someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who feels the need to repeat a particular action or set of actions in order to feel safe and secure in this world. Maybe they have to wash their hands six times before they eat. Or maybe they have a hard time walking against the grain of a wood floor. Whatever it is, the tasks they feel they need to complete in order to feel secure seem, to an outsider, to be order without purpose.
God does not act without purpose. Read our focus passage in Genesis again (Genesis 1:1 through 2:3). Record each purpose given throughout the creation account (example: one light governs the day)
Even in creation, God provides purpose. In the previous section, we learned how God creates in ordered layers. Combine that with the knowledge that the creation process has a purpose, and we now have a powerful insight to the layers of God’s creation.
Read Ephesians 3:20-21. What does this passage say about the plans God has for us?
It is not only for patience and discipline that God asks us to endure in this life. Sometimes He is building the layers necessary for our ultimate dreams to be able to be fruitful.
It is important, in our spiritual walk, that we do not become obsessive-compulsive. If you have been in the church for a significant length of time, you have likely heard many different obsessive-style approaches to spirituality. From structured quiet time, to devotions, to ACTS-style prayer, to minimum participation requirements, to reading a chapter a day through the Bible, or singing worship songs, or praying before meals–we so easily slip into an obsessive approach to spiritual growth.
What areas in your spiritual walk have you maybe slipped into pattern without purpose?
Spend some time exploring the different aspects of your spiritual growth listed above. Ask God for insight into why you do them, if He wants you to do them, and what changes He might want to have take place in your heart regarding why you do them.
What did you learn from Him?
Commit now to seeking His face, seeking His will, and more importantly, seeking to know Him better and better with each interaction. Put all the rest aside. If you are not seeking to know Him better, or are seeking to look good in the eyes of man rather than God, you need to change course. Man can only offer imperfect expectations. God’s loving will for you is to know Him better so that your life can be better. Put that first, and all the rest will fall into place.