Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hard Questions

It seemed fitting that the sky hung heavy and low. It seemed right that the wind was bitter, howling with the fierce shriek of winter around a tiny country cemetery. There was a very small hole in the ground and a very tiny casket to be put into it. It seemed appropriate that we all stood numbed by the cold of that day.

A friend of mine once wrote a poem about Adam, Eve and God in the Garden of Eden. It was a good poem, well constructed with a strong rhythm and powerful images. One of those images often comes to mind when bad things happen to good people. It’s an image of God curled into a fetal position, and the wailing sound of His weeping.

Sometimes we ask hard questions. Why did that baby have to die, God? Why is my friend suffering with a painful cancer? Why are those people in Africa starving? We don’t usually get a good answer to those questions. They leave us numb and they leave us wondering if God is there.

But then there is that image and that sound. In my friend’s poem God mourned the first disobedience, the first break in His relationship with the creatures He put on the earth.
The picture my friend painted with his words was of a God who cares, a God who feels our pain, a God who mourns with us, especially at the graves of tiny babies.

He is also a God who will answer. He is a God who acted to redeem all that was broken in our world. His is a God who continues to do so. The redemption was accomplished on the cross of Calvary, but it is not yet complete. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, God “… waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:13).

The process is sometimes painful, but the world will one day be made entirely new, entirely redeemed. The scriptures talk about creation groaning as we wait for that day. The groans do not fall on deaf ears, nor will they remain unanswered forever. One day that tiny baby will rise, whole and perfect as God intended him to be.

God’s plan is unfolding. What then, should we do in those times when we groan and feel there is no answer? Again, scripture tells us – “To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Humility before God bows the knee and continues to believe. Humility before God acknowledges His sovereignty and calls Him good. Even when babies die and the pain of this world overwhelms, humility before God says, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Trace of Irish Brogue And the Genetic Code

It was my first visit to a new doctor. I was pregnant with my third child, so he wanted to know my medical history. As I recited the litany of childhood diseases, the rare occasions I had been hospitalized and the details of my other pregnancies, the doctor took notes. Then he asked,
“Where are you from, originally?”
“Ontario,” I admitted.
“And your parents?”
“The Ottawa Valley.”
“What about your grandparents?”
I was beginning to wonder what this had to do with my medical history, but answered. “I think my grandfather was born in Ireland, but I’m not sure. It may have been my great-grandfather.”
The doctor smiled. “I knew it,” he said. "I could hear it in your voice.”
I was amazed. Those roots went back three generations or more and I considered my self an un-hyphenated Canadian, so it was a surprise to know there was still something that tied me so strongly to my origins.
Recently scientists announced a discovery that astonished the world. They had succeeded in mapping the genetic code, unraveling the secrets of the blueprint of human kind. They were stunned to discover the genetic code of all humans is incredibly similar. In fact, they stated that it appeared all humankind had descended from the same source. We are all, indeed, brothers and sisters.
Of course, we already knew that. At least, those who have read the book of Genesis knew it. Genesis 1:27 says – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
That is our ancestry, our beginning point. The rest of Genesis, indeed, the rest of the Bible, is our history. We can take it personally. The pattern of life laid out in its pages, the heroism and the villainy, the glory and the debauchery, the victory and the defeat, all of it is part of who we are. And it shows. There is something in us, something as subtle as the faint tinge of Irish brogue the doctor heard in my voice, connecting us to our origins. We feel the pull of it now and then. We’ve know the truth of it, even if we have never read Genesis. We know who we are. We know who our Father is.
Why, then do we deny it? Why have we tried so hard to invent an alternate history? The answer, again, is in Genesis. Adam and Eve disobeyed their Father. They hid from Him and He was forced to remove them from their protected environment. Sin had invaded mankind’s history, and our rejection of God became a common theme.
But there is more, there is hope. “… just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.@ (Romans 5:18). Jesus, our ancestor, our brother, was also our Saviour.
The truth is in us. Why deny it?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Drive to Discover

We all remember that little rhyme, memorized in grade school - 'In fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.' What we could not perhaps understand, as we recited that rhyme as children, was that Columbus was not just setting off on an adventure at sea as many others did before him. He was setting off under a completely new banner of faith.

Columbus believed that he would, in fact, not fall off the earth, as was commonly believed at the time. He believed there was more beyond and he was driven to discover it. We all know the outcome. Columbus and his crew survived, discovered a new land and returned to tell about it. I thought about Columbus and the many other explorers the other day, as I watched a video produced by a secular organization. The scientists on the video, who spoke about what they were discovering in the solar system, were in some ways, just like Columbus. They were driven to discover what lay beyond.

The video, called The Privileged Planet, explains how, for many centuries, man believed the earth was unique in the universe. But, as exploration of the stars moved from a pastime to a science, it began to seem that the earth was, in fact, only a small dot like billions of others. Laymen and scientists alike began to believe there had to be millions more out there, just like earth. They began listening to the stars, hoping to hear something that would tell them there was life out there. They studied solar systems and black holes and stars that appear like tiny pinpricks to the human eye. They sent exploratory devices to land on far-away planets, looking for evidence of life. They have discovered much that has been useful.

They discovered, much to their astonishment, that the earth, in fact, does appear to be one of a kind. None other is placed within a solar system in such a way that it can sustain life. As the astronomers began to understand the finely-tuned balance of the system and our planet's place in it, they deduced that the chances of another planet like earth existing are astronomically remote. Their deductions begged a series of questions. The question, why, is perhaps the most obvious. Why is our planet so unique? Why is it situated so perfectly that it can sustain life? Why is it situated so perfectly that the living creatures on its surface can observe and marvel at the universe around them?

Why, indeed.The Apostle Paul enlightens us in Romans - "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

God has done it all so that we might recognize Him and glorify Him. Our drive to discover, to learn, to understand the world around us and the world within us, originates in God's desire to be glorified and to be known.

Look at the stars tonight, if you can. Or look at the snow falling from the clouds above, or the rain pouring down. Think about the incredible patterns that make those normal yet awesome natural occurrences possible. Think about our round globe, unique in the universe. And ask yourself, Why?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Snow days

Whew we have a pile of snow here now - after the majority of the winter passing with none, it's wonderful to see the landscape covered with the thick gleaming white and the trees decorated with rounded shawls and scarves. Driving, on the other hand, isn't much fun - I had to take my daughter's friend home this morning and the long road to her country home made me grip the steering wheel pretty tightly. But our little Neon takes to it quite well - ploughing through the drifts and navigating the ruts without getting stuck - PTL!

Meg and I went to Red Deer after dropping her off, and had a good time together. I've been feeling like we've been kind of neglecting her lately so it was great to be able to have some car time to talk and shopping time to spend money - hers and mine - and story time on the way back to share what we've been writing. She has started another fantasy story - book length, she thinks. She has a great imagination and the twists and turns in her stories are quite intriguing.

Speaking of books ... I'm wanting to get back at mine but have had a lot on my plate lately and it's not going to let up for a while. I'm about to start another online devotional course so that will take some effort, and then the AGC conference is at the end of the month and I'm coordinating the women's part. Maybe in April ...

And then it will be May and Laura will be home. Yahoo! And the short list for the two contests I entered will be out - oh my! And my 55th birthday will come and go- oh dear!

Time zooms. Life is good. God is great.