September 8, 2006

Gazing Into the Heavens


There are very few hymns written about the resurrection, you'll notice. Most people are hesitant even to talk about it. This should be odd, I suppose, except that it's all so big there's really no wonder. I'm still reeling over the wonder of the kidneys, let alone the triumphant return of the Savior.

We have the rather demanding blessing of an elaborate God. Our sin-constricted brains are puzzled by the extravagance of Creation. We'd be more comfortable with economy, with a more spartan simplicity to the universe. But no. God won't let us get away with that. Not satisfied to dazzle our incomprehending senses with a sun and a moon, 'He made the stars also,' as the author of Genesis mentions in an almost parenthetical aside. Can't you see it? God's almighty fingers twinkle, and instantly the stars bloom; it's effortless, merely a little extra, a small flourish just for the fun of it. In the Creation account it's rather like an afterthought amidst other matters-- "And He made the stars also." That's it. Good lands.

But that's how it is. God's elaborate surprises jump out at us and yell "boo!" beneath every microscope, before every eye, beyond every telescope. No matter how much we mutter our finite flea-brained protestations that fifty million galaxies are quite enough, really, He will force another million or so upon our notice. And we think the government throws big numbers around lightly.

Sometimes I imagine God creating the universe. I see Him deciding that ten species of fish simply won't do, and delightedly creating hundreds more of wildly imaginative form and color. I see Him taking joy in the design of the golgi formations in cells and composing water with the triumph of a master artisan. And then come the primates. It's not enough to merely create such a comical beast as the baboon; He had to give some of them purple bottoms. Every time I see a mandrill, I can't help but think that God's creative, expressive nature has a streak of the divinely rambunctious.

When Christ was on earth, things were no different. At the end of his record of Christ's life, John tells us with bewilderment that "there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." Christ could have limited Himself to a miracle here, a miracle there, perhaps one raising-the-dead incident as a final flourish. And we would have been amazed. But He was not stingy with His bounteous glory. He walked the earth shedding miracles like we shed dead skin cells.

Then there's the issue of the plan for the salvation of His chosen people. We can't simply earn our way in. Nothing so seemingly sensible as that. Instead we live in an elaborate fairy-tale construction of a world, our salvation secured in an epic battle against the powers of sin and darkness. One man's transgression becomes his children's transgression, one Man's triumph becomes His children's triumph. It's a duel, with every man's fate in the hands of one Hero. This triumphant Hero rescues His bride from her captivity in the evil kingdom where she is held at ransom, and the story ends, like any really good story, with a wedding and a happily-ever-after. And after countless plot twists, cliffhangers, subplots, complications, developments, and finally the grand resolution, the wild story God has written leaves us breathless.

What are we to do? With our debased, contracted minds and stilted imaginations, how are we to cope in the lush, elaborate wildness of this jungle of wonders the Lord has placed us in? How can we comprehend the unashamed magnificence of our Maker? I'm not sure, really. The disciples themselves were taken aback at times. When Christ ascended to heaven, they could do nothing but gape. The two angels immediately at hand, calibrated as they were to wonders far exceeding even this, obviously thought it was just a little bit ridiculous. "Ye men of Galilee," they inquired, "why stand ye gazing into the heavens?" The glorified Son of God has just risen to His throne on the right hand of His Father, that's all. Now get to work.

I hope these angels will pardon me if I, too, stand gazing into the heavens, squinting with aching eyes at even the dimmest reflection of God's splendor. I'm sorry. I'm a silly little sinner who can never quite comprehend it all. Patience-- I'll keep trying. Maybe I'll stop squinting one of these days.


Setiago said...

Wondrously well written and so true!

Naomi Joy said...

Wow - this is beautiful.

-A dreader you probably didn't know you had

Cal-el of Krypton said...

I can see the school subject of late has been anatomy. But seriously Caitlin... you truely have a gift for writing. I know many college students and professors who devote years to writing yet never attaining the elegance and fluidity of thought as you've just casually pinned down.

Lynn Bruce said...

Lovely. This being your first writing effort of this school year, I can't wait to see what will follow.

I love the way you tick. A+.

gabbie said...

This was all beautifully written and so true!

Love it.

Katie said...

Caitlin, I enjoyed this so much. What a mind the Lord has blessed you with. Keep writing, please.

G.L.H. said...

I found you through Mother Auma. What a beautiful talent you have to draw us right into where *you* are thinking! Thank you so much for your thoughts!


rachel tsunami said...

fa, you nailed it. i loved and enjoyed reading this.