My history has taught me first to see the world, the natural world, through the lens of physics and science. It has seemed a cosmic machine, mechanically acting, particles and waves and matter and energy all moving like the ultimate Rube Goldberg invention. The next level out of this atheistic vision was seeing God as the one who started it all, the deist's vision of the universe.
But in recent years I've come to see that God is the one persisting all things in existence. There is no separation between this aspect of reality, God behind and beneath it all, and the mechanical events happening within Creation. They are indeed woven together as one reality.
The next level is seeing, understanding, all of that as woven together with the character of God, especially as seen in Jesus. When you see a Picasso painting, whatever stories you've heard about the artist's character and personality and history are intimately woven into the experience you have in seeing and making sense of the painting. Similarly, when we see Creation, we should also bring into our experience the full knowledge of Who is behind it, now and throughout all of history. Really woven, really intimately, in a way such that you can't separate the mechanical from the spiritual, maybe like you couldn't separate the working of baking powder and flour and the other ingredients that make pancakes rise and cook the way they do from your experience of having someone you love make those pancakes just for you, just the way you like them. The point being, of course, not that you get what you want, like ordering pancakes from somebody who makes them to fulfill your desires, but that the love of that person for you is woven together inseparably with the mechanical things that are happening within the means that they choose to use to express their love for you.
Love. That's the one concept that's really powerful. The one particular aspect of God‘s character and nature that was the first foot in the door for these ideas for me, so to speak, was and is love.
These thoughts started as I was sitting quietly in my car, waiting for the engine to warm up, in my garage. I saw the light of sunrise coming from behind me, over my car, against the garage back wall in front of me. I saw the waves of heat and cold mixing together in that sunlight against the back of the garage.
Now I am driving to work. And I’m reciting and reinforcing these ideas in my head as I look around at what I see. So even if you see the highway signs as this artificial, manmade blight on the holy vision of natural beauty, they are still within the universe that God created and sustains and allows action within. One of the great challenges, at least for me at this point in my life, is to hold onto, to retain, a rich understanding of God‘s character even as I look at His creation, even as I see evidence of the fallenness of creation.
It also occurs to me that this should be one of our primary goals for the education of our children: to see the mechanical actions of creation as inseparable from the character of the one who created and is still creating. For example, to imagine the concentration camps of World War II Germany, or the horrific conditions that exist at this moment in North Korea, and to still see a loving God, THE only living and true, loving God, as inseparable from those horrible pictures and scenarios, and yet still see God as loving, and see those things as horrible, all in the same picture.
And this is only part of the challenge before us.