Archives For Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Nothing like this had ever happened before. In the beginning, there was God. And nothing else. Not an empty space and an endlessly ticking clock. Just nothing. No space. No time. Space and time are included under the heading of “the heavens and the earth.” In the beginning, God. And that’s it.

Let It BeAnd then the Maker began to make. One powerful word at a time. For six days, God continued to say this tiny word: “yehi,” “let there be.” The word is tiny, but powerful. This little word was not earth-shattering, it was earth-generating. Every single thing you’ve ever seen, or heard of, or even dreamt of was spoken into existence in those six days.[1]

This rhythm of verbal creation is punctuated by the repeated refrain, “It was good! It was good! It was very good!”

Creation is an act of the Creator. And it’s incredibly good. Thus far God has created through words: a poem written in stone and wood and soil and skies and living beings.

Orion Nebula

But in Genesis 2, God goes beyond speaking. Now he begins to “form” (v. 7). God is now digging his fingers into the dust that he spoke and forming it into a statue. This statue will become the inspiration for every statue of a human being every created, and it far exceeds them all—even Michelangelo’s David. But God is not done creating. After he “forms” he “breathes” (v. 7), and the breath that shaped the word-creation of all the stuff we’ve ever known now breathe-creates human life. God exhales into the nostrils of his statue and humanity takes its first breath.

God now takes one more creative step; this time he “plants” (v. 8). He plants a garden—not a raw wilderness or an unorganized jungle, but a specifically shaped garden. Speaking, forming, breathing, and planting God brings into existence the world we know. From absolutely nothing, the Creator creates his creation.

Given this creative context, we probably shouldn’t be surprised at the first job God gave to Adam. God created, then decided to make something like him, something “in his image and likeness” (1:26–27). So what did the Creator create this image-bearing creation to do?

Create!

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

Once he finished making the world, the Maker made a maker. Adam and Eve were specifically placed within the garden to “work it” (which means exactly what you’d think) and “keep it” (which means to preserve it and take care of it).

It wasn’t enough for God to make paradise, he wanted paradise to continue to be made. To be further developed. God’s creation wasn’t bad (“It was good!”), but it wasn’t finished. The Creator finished his creative activities in the beginning by creating a creator to act according to the example of the Creator.

So now, thousands of years and millions of creators later, we find ourselves standing here, on this same spoken earth, in this planted garden, as these formed and breathed human beings. And the job description remains. Created to create. Look at the world around you and see what the Creator’s creators have done. Some of it is magnificent. Some of it is horrifying. Some of it reflects the Creator. Some of it defies him. But we stand as creators, bearing the likeness of the Creator, creating in the not yet finished creation.

The Artist in His Studio (Rembrandt)

“The Artist in His Studio” by Rembrandt

 

So what will we make? Too many Christians—who bear the image of the Creator to an unimaginable extent—have hidden away from the task of creating. It’s too hard, too dangerous, too dark, too embarrassing, too defiling, too degrading, too physical, too artsy. Too many Christians have hidden in pews or buried themselves in doctrine, as if those things are somehow antithetical to creativity. Too few of the Creator’s Christian creators have created.

Christianity actually has a rich history in this area. We have created works of staggering beauty. We have shaped our world to a profound extent. Yet who would argue that the Creator’s creators are creating as they should, all they should, where they should?

In the beginning, the Maker made a maker, and he placed us here to make this world the kind of place he wants it to be. Wherever we stand on God’s good earth, may we dirty our hands in the stuff God made and make something good and true and beautiful.

 

 


 

[1] Of course, there are many things that human beings would make out of the original things that God made; I’ll make that point next.

I annoy my family every time we eat fresh strawberries or a ripe watermelon. “Are you kidding me?!! Did you taste these? How is this even possible?!!” Yes, they’ve tasted the strawberries; yes, they’re delicious; let’s talk about something more interesting. But let me annoy you with this for just a minute.

Think of everything that has to go into enjoying a strawberry. God had to first create a world in which strawberries could grow. Then he designed strawberries, but he did so with such an over-extravagant flare it’s ridiculous. They’re not black and white; they’re bright red. They have a unique shape and texture. They are capable of nourishing our bodies (which God also designed to receive nourishment from the fruit of the ground—unbelievable!). This would all be amazing even if they weren’t delicious.

Strawberries

But then God chose to give strawberries flavor. Think about what flavor entails. We’re talking about a whole language of subtleties and nuances. Wine and coffee snobs have their own jargon to try to capture some of these subtleties in flavor: sweet, acidic, smooth, robust, earthy, fruity, lingering, sharp, crisp, oaky, floral, etc. There is a world of information in every bite, so we grasp at a language that was not designed to describe such things and try to communicate what we’re tasting. Flavor is a full language, an incomprehensibly large set of data packed into the physical stuff we eat and drink.

God created this language of flavor. He encoded every edible thing with the appropriate data to make it taste as it should. Even if you’ve never eaten a fresh Oxnard strawberry, those strawberries are encoded with data by a loving Creator.

And then there’s your mouth. God had to give your mouth both the hardware (taste buds, teeth, saliva, etc.) and the software (flavor interpreters) so that you could decode the flavors that he has encoded in a strawberry. Your sense of smell is tied in as well. Every bite. Every strawberry. Every glass of wine. Every steak. Bursting with a flavor-language invented by God, decoded by the ingenious equipment God placed in your mouth.

It’s the same with your ears. We’re talking physical objects capable of producing sound waves that can carry unique timbres, flying through the air, smashing into your eardrums, travelling to your brain for interpretation. God encodes the world with a sound-language, and equips your body with decoding equipment.

It’s the same with your eyes. Multiple sources of light that cast unique visual opportunities at every moment. Objects that reflect and refract that light in a host of colors, shades, and textures, sending that light bouncing toward eyes and camera lenses. God encoded the world using an incredibly complex light-language. And he gave you light-decoding equipment that is mind-boggling in its complexity and brilliance.

Watermelon

It’s the same with your fingertips. A world encoded with textures, degrees of firmness, shapes, and all the incredible subtleties that make up the “feel” of the world. A touch-language that is infinitely explorable. And he covered you in skin capable of decoding this data with unbelievable sensitivity.

It’s the same with your nose. Particles everywhere encoded using God’s incredible scent-language. Winds that carry these scents. Noses that can pick them up and interpret them.

And here is the staggering part: ALL OF THIS IS ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY. From a certain standpoint, that is.

God could have made us purely spiritual beings, yet he chose to enflesh us. He made a physical world and loaded it with the potential for infinite sensory combinations. He gave us the equipment to utilize these five senses. He sends us out into the world to enjoy these sense experiences in all of their diversity, in all of their glory. God’s world is enjoyable—he made it that way, and he gave us the capacity to enjoy it. Truly, in enjoying this world, we are enjoying the God who made it, the God who “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

I truly believe that God delights in my delight of strawberries. I can turn that taste into an idol, of course. I can use it for purposes that dishonor God. But when I bite into this unbelievable piece of God’s creation, my mind turns instantly to the Creator, and I thank him for being so lavish in encoding this world, and so gracious in providing me with the ability to decode it. I enjoy God by enjoying his creation. With every bite, I remember God’s goodness.

It’s as if the strawberries declare the glory of God; the watermelons proclaim his handiwork. It’s apologetic fruit, and it’s full of wonder.

Erosion

Chris Hay —  August 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the beauty of God’s creation as it was unwrapped in some of our National Parks; how God’s creative work is just a hint, a sampling of His majesty and glory; and how all of His creation should cause us to fall on our faces in worship. These stunning, breathtaking vistas are just a drop in the vast ocean of God’s stunning beauty and breathtaking character.

Las Vegas StripOn this same trip, we took the time to drive The Strip in Las Vegas. Never been there before, and since we were driving right through Vegas anyway, we decided to check it out. Yes, it was impressive. Man certainly has been given great skill in designing and constructing impressive monuments to himself, such as the sphinx and the Eiffel Tower in miniature; of course the originals, also built by man, are even more impressive!

It was the very next day that we drove through Zion National Park, and I couldn’t help comparing God’s handiwork there with man’s handiwork in Las Vegas. Both impressive, both beautiful, both worthy of taking lots of pictures, both attract thousands of people. But I was overwhelmed with the contrasts. The Strip requires constant and expensive maintenance to keep it looking beautiful. If it were neglected for just a few years, it would deteriorate into rubble. Whereas God’s work has been sitting there just fine for millennia, arguably getting more stunning as the centuries pass. The natural massifs and vistas lifted my soul in worship to the Creator God; The Strip was a jarring reminder of man’s greed and emptiness.

Grand CanyonIt struck me that much of God’s creative beauty is from erosion. The sandstone monoliths of Capitol Reef have been scoured clean of dirt and debris, revealing their impressive beauty. The Grand Canyon and all its stark beauty exist solely because of erosion. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are the result of the caressing of the wind and water over the centuries. The wind and the rain are brushes in the Artist’s fingers; they are hammer and chisel in the Sculptor’s hands.

Those same tools, wind and rain and erosion, would desecrate man’s works. Buildings would rust, windows would break, landscaping would run wild or die from lack of water. Erosion is the enemy of man’s work; it is the agent of God’s work.

Bryce Canyon HoodoosThe parallels in the life of a Christ-follower should be clear. The winds and rains of life are what make us more beautiful and Christ-like. Erosion is God’s normal and required process to form beauty and character in us. We can desperately fight to keep ourselves ‘maintained’ and looking good as we stroll down the road of life, or we can accept and even embrace God’s erosion of ourselves to make us a stunning reflection of Him.

If we try living with Self as our god, the tools of erosion will only make us more bitter, filled with rust and deterioration that oozes onto those around us. And that makes us ugly. So we need to allow the erosion of life to make us more beautiful, more stunning. We can’t let it deteriorate our spirit and make us ugly. I would much rather be a National Park than the Vegas Strip.

As I write this, I’ve just returned home from an evening walk with my family. Most nights we walk a loop that takes us up on the hillside and back to our lowland home. This time of year our evening walks point us toward the sunset for a good 20 minutes as we crest the hill and work our way gradually down.

Tonight’s sunset was entirely unique, as they all are. Bright orange on the horizon, innumerable shades of pink in the lower sky, purple mountains matched by purple clouds, silvery white higher up, and intense blue fading up and over our heads. Sights like this present us with beauty that sometimes makes our hearts ache.

Simi Valley Sunset

This is the exact sunset I’m trying to describe. Photo Credit: Zach Bloom (www.blooming-productions.com, Instagram: @zachfilms).

We enjoyed this rich view as we walked imperceptibly closer to the horizon. I tried to drink it all in. My wife and I talked about the God who shines at us in such moments. I repeatedly pointed it out to my daughters riding in the double stroller. (“I know Daddy, I already saw how beautiful!”)

And then we reached the side street that curbs our route, walked parallel to the radiating colors for a short block, then turned our backs on the glory. I hated to do it. But after running my wife off the sidewalk with the stroller as I craned my neck for a few more glances, I gave it up. I guess that’s all the glory I get for one night.

How we long for those moments with God! Those rare moments where we feel him, where we almost see Him. I’ve experienced it in singing praise songs, in reading my Bible and other books, in short and long moments of prayer, in rich times of fellowship. Lately I’ve been experiencing God more and more in his stuff. The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day and night speak incessantly, their voices sounding in every corner of creation (Ps. 19:1–6). When I earnestly look, I see God’s active presence in fallen leaves, in half moons, in my daughters’ laughter, in a stranger’s smile. I’m no pantheist, but I do agree with the Psalmist—his name is echoing all around this place.

These moments of recognized glory are rare and precious; we hate to let them go. It felt such a shame to turn my back on God’s glory etched in the ever-changing sky. But when I turned my back on glory, I realized that I hadn’t. The street ahead of me was softly shaded in orange and pink. Every tree, car, and home was covered in a gentle light. The street we so often walk along was the same as ever, yet completely different. God’s glory shone from behind us and everything in our path passively reflected his light as it actively presented all of the attributes with which God crafted it. The trees, for example, revealed God’s handiwork in leaves and bark and limbs, and they glowed softly in reflection of his illuminated masterpiece.

As much as we want to cling to those experiences of God’s glory, we must eventually turn our backs. The routine calls us on. The God-granted mundanities of our daily lives insist on pulling us away from unending meditation. But when we do turn our backs in obedience, we find his glory reflected still. He is there to be experienced in the trivialities and in the routines. He is shining all around us. We only need eyes to see.

Beautiful Places

Chris Hay —  July 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

Every time I visit a beautiful place, I find myself overwhelmed with a deep hunger, a desperate longing, to grasp more of it. I remember many years ago driving the Icefields Parkway in Canada and I was an emotional wreck for three days. It was stunning beyond belief, and as much as I tried to drink it all in, I was left panting with thirst. I lived in Alaska for many years, and it was the same thing. I tried to absorb it all, but was left wanting.

This has all been resurrected in my soul as my wife and I have just driven from Southern California to Denver for a conference. We took the opportunity to visit some of our National Parks and enjoy the creative work of our great God, including Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, and Capitol Reef NP. We also drove Utah Hwy 12, one of America’s top scenic drives. Quite simply, we have seen some of the most stunning scenery in the world (my current opinion—I certainly haven’t seen all the scenery in the world!).

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

We processed this soul longing as we wound our way through Zion Canyon. God created all this beauty initially for His own good pleasure, and now He allows His created beings to enjoy it. These parks, and this scenery, are massive; stunning; breathtaking; immense. Kind of like God. The realization grew as we drove and talked that this hunger I experience, this desire to almost become one with the stupendous vistas unfolding before us, can only be satisfied by God Himself. He gives us these gorgeous places to draw our emotions toward Him. These places create that want for more because we do want more. And no created thing, no mountain, no canyon, no majestic vista, can begin to compare with His glory and His beauty.

When we stare up at the massive sandstone formations in Capitol Reef, or gaze on the intricate formations that defy description in Bryce Canyon, we need to be drawn toward God Himself. As massive and beautiful as those formations are, they pale compared to the immensity of the Creator who made them. This earthly beauty, designed by God for His pleasure and our enjoyment, is simply an arrow that points toward Him. If I am left panting as I gaze on such earthly beauty, what should my response be as I meditate on the dazzling radiance of God? Ask Ezekiel or Isaiah. After glimpsing the radiance of God’s glory, Ezekiel fell on his face (Ezek 1:26-28). When Isaiah saw the throne room of heaven, he assumed he was a dead man (Isa 6:1-7).

I imagine those responses were not unlike the feelings evoked in us when we are privileged to see the breathtaking vistas of Yosemite, or the towering Rocky Mountains, or the wild rugged beauty of Alaska. Only more so exponentially. God knows that to truly gaze on His glory is only permitted to a select few; I’m sure because we simply couldn’t handle it. So He gives us the ethereal hoodoos in Bryce Canyon and the massive sandstone monoliths of Capitol Reef to take our breath away, and try to fathom how infinitely great is our God.

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

We are all surrounded by beauty, even if it’s not the grandeur of the Western U.S. We have lived many places, and have found beauty in each of those places. From watching the sunset over the cornfields of the Midwest, to watching lines of ants marching off to who-knows-where, God has designed His glorious world for us to catch a glimpse of Him. So my thought is this: every time I look upon His creation, whether tiny or massive, simple or bizarre, ordinary or unique, I need to see it as an expression of His character. I need to realize that the longing inside for more of that stunning vista is simply a longing for more of our glorious God and Savior and Creator Jesus. He gave us these places, this earth, and the beauty around us. That is why it is beneficial to go to places like Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, and Capitol Reef NP. So get out your map, plan a trip, and go worship our supremely huge God.

“The mountains rose, the valleys sank down, to the place that you appointed for them.” Ps 104:8

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