March 10, 2010
A Springtime Mystery
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
"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."
When was the last time you wondered if spring would ever come? Not in the ironic sense - really wondered if winter might last forever, something like the 100 years of winter in Narnia. My guess is never. Most of America lives in the reality of four seasons, and we expect the Earth to naturally cycle from winter to spring to summer to fall. We expect trees to unfurl new leaves this time of year because they're supposed to.
But what if they didn't? What if the trees bloomed in winter when their new leaves would freeze, or what if their flowers matured into hornets' nests instead of apples? What if they didn't bloom at all?
In his autobiographical work, Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton remembers his journey from agnosticism to faith including such nonsensical questions. Before he became the great 20th century apologist, he was a man confined to the world of determinism, where the natural world was governed by impersonal laws or nothing. But observing spring outside his window, he was struck by the wonderful fact that for some reason, trees do indeed bloom into fruit.
"They [materialists/determinists] talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as necessary as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not… You cannot imagine two and one not making three. But you can easily imagine trees not growing fruit…"
"I had always vaguely felt facts to be miracles in the sense that they were wonderful: now I began to think them miracles in the stricter sense that they were willful. I mean that they were, or might be, repeated exercises of some will. In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician." (Orthodoxy)
I owe Chesterton a great debt, because he taught me to be amazed at everyday grace. After all, how often do we marvel that the sky is blue (or grey) instead of orange or electric pink? Yet again, familiarity breeds contempt, and we forget what incredible world this "magician" made and keeps in order. Like children who see the same magic trick one too many times, we stop wondering "how did he do that?" and are bored until we see something new.
I use the term "magician" loosely - God is no mere conjurer of tricks, and Jesus didn't feed the 5,000 just to wow the crowd. But I wonder that we lose our wonder of this world, even in its fallen state. As Paul writes in Romans, the evidence of God's incredible, "eternal power" and transcendent, "divine nature" is right in front of our eyes. How do forget a God so great that He makes trees bloom?
As Virginia turns to spring again, I can't help but look outside and be amazed. To paraphrase Chesterton, the fact that grass is really green - and so perfectly suited for spring time sports - truly is a miracle, a supernaturally guided fact. What an awesome God.
Intersecting Faith & Life: When was the last time you took a look outside? Consider that "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 8:1) and the Earth is the work of his hands. Are you properly inspired to worship their Creator?