One of the reasons I have come to love walking early in the mornings, after study and prayer and before the work day formally begins, is the stillness of the early dawn.
It’s pretty much the same route, every single day….down my street, around the Methodist Church parking lot, down Back Creek Road, to the end of the Cul de Sac of Landing Drive. I pass the same houses, the same fire department, the same refinery, the same docks on the water, the same dogs, the same kids getting on the school buses, the same boarded up old post office–every single day.
But, somehow, some way–it always looks differently.
Sometimes I can figure out why or what makes it look different. Maybe it is stormy on my walk. Or maybe the angle of the rising sun is different. Sometimes the sunset is a striking pink; other times it is made of muted yellows and blues. Sometimes there is snow. Sometimes there are puddles. Sometimes there are red and yellow leaves. Sometimes there are flowers blooming. Sometimes, there has been tidal flooding, and debris is strewn across the roads.
But, always and forever, it always looks differently.
This week has been particularly amazing, in the realm of this “different-ness.” The day after the snowstorm that raced through our area, I found this perfectly spiraled ice flow, as I walked down my street:
Then, just a couple of days later–I saw something I have never seen below. Through the sporadic rain drops that were falling, I saw a Sunrise Rainbow. I did some research, apparently it is fairly rare to get to see such a thing:
And, today, I’m holed up in Roanoke, working from a hotel, and will be staying in the area for a Writer’s Conference tomorrow. This morning’s early morning adventure brought views of mountains in the distance, and a goldenpink fire that settled that set the city ablaze, as the sun rose:
These are not nothing sights. They are, in a word, incredible.
You know, until I really started contemplating whether God was real, or whether scripture was truth, I never saw such things as “proof” of his existence. They were amazing, wonderful–particularly the sky–but my mind did not naturally make the connection between such things, and God.
Or, maybe it did.
There is something that some theologians refer to as “general revelation of God”. I don’t completely understand it all, but it is the knowledge that God places of Himself, in all of mankind, regardless of whether they believe that revelation to be that of truth, or of untruth. Or, whether they believe that revelation to be about God, by God Himself, or if instead they believe it to be something else, though they may struggle to define what that “something” is.
John Calvin, in his Institutes of Christian Religion, had this to say:
The final goal of the blessed life, moreover, rests in the knowledge of God. Lest anyone, then, be excluded from access to happiness, he not only sowed in men’s minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken, but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him (Institutes, I.5.1).
And, we see evidence of the truth of this statement–that God both sowed in our minds the seeds of religion, while also revealing Himself through nature–when we stand in awe gazing into the sky at the stars and planets, and we read this scripture in Psalms 19:
The heavens–truly, they do declare the glory of God, as asteroids tumble and comets streak and black holes collapse and planets spin and as suns burn. And as the sky’s expanse draws our eyes to a brilliant deep blue.
For the longest time, though, I struggled with Romans 1:19-21:
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
It bothered me–deeply–that scripture would declare that God’s invisible attributes and nature, could be found in the things He had created, and therefore man had no excuse. I had no excuse. What about those who have never heard of God, I wondered? Or, what about those who were dead-set certain that such wonders were strictly scientific in scope–nothing more?
And, what about me, before I came to a settled belief, in my Lord and God’s existence as truth? Did I, too, have no excuse, in those pre-salvific days?
Not only did it bother me; it foolishly angered me.
But this week, as day, after day, after day, I bumped right up next to significant phenomenons in nature, that my soul knew for certain revealed God as God, I remembered another time–several years ago now–that I was confronted with such realization–prior to coming to believe in the truth of who He is:
On a secluded, hidden beach.
Before an immense, rolling ocean.
Under a blindingly blue sky.
Sitting upon jagged, sharp black lava rocks.
And on that beach before that ocean under that sky and sitting on those rocks–I sensed something unmistakably real. No, maybe “true” is a better word.
He made it plain to me.
In those moments, I sensed that all that fell within my view–the very vastness of what my eyes could see–pointed to something or someone who not only created what lay before me, but who also created, was who was present with, me.
And, that great big someone, knew my name.
The one who created the tiny grains of sand and the creatures swarming in the sea and the urchins clinging to the lava rocks and that sky–always that sky—
was real, and was truth, and knew me.
Truly the heavens do declare His glory.
And the ice crystals. And the refracted light that creates the rainbows. And the goldpinkfire that shines on the mountains.
And, the mountains themselves.
And, the one who created such awe-striking things, is also the God who created me. And You. And gave His son, as a sacrifice, so that we could be with Him now, and with Him eternally…
..where our eyes will behold wonders even more glorious than these that my eyes have seen this week.
Oh, God. Please make what can be known about you, plain to us.
We are, without excuse.