Last week I started teaching a book study at church. The book we are reading this fall is Philip Yancey’s Rumors of Another World. This past Monday the group met to discuss chapter two of this book. In this chapter, called “Rumors,” Yancey says something I’d like for you to think about. He writes: “The ordinary, natural world contains the supernatural, a necessary step since we do not have the capacity to apprehend God directly. We see God best in the same way we see a solar eclipse: not by staring at the sun, which would cause blindness, but through something on which the sun is projected.”
The Scriptures do, in fact, teach us that no one can look at God and live (Exodus 33:20). As things are now we would be overwhelmed if we saw God directly. You may recall that Moses was permitted to see God’s backside for a fleeting moment and this just about did him in. God is too great and too wonderful for us humans to look at face to face but because God is also love, and desires to make Himself known to us, He has established other ways to reveal Himself to us. One of those ways is through His Creation.
In volume one of Institutes of the Christian Religion John Calvin says God has chosen to “accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity.” This accommodation by God is a sign of His mercy and grace. It is also another indication of His desire to make Himself known to us. Calvin claims that God “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.” Later he adds, “upon his individual works he has engraved unmistakable marks of his glory, so clear and so prominent that even unlettered and stupid folk cannot plead the excuse of ignorance.” Calvin compares God’s revelation in His Creation to “a sort of mirror in which we can contemplate God, who is otherwise invisible.”
Reflecting on both Yancey’s and Calvin’s words I find myself incredibly grateful for God’s revelation of Himself in Creation. I certainly realize this is not the only, or even the best, revelation we have of God but it is one that has enriched my spiritual journey immensely. I fear, however, that many people (including lots of Christians) still do not understand what an incredible gift Creation is. Too many people see it only as something that benefits one physically or materially. If they stop there they will miss Creation’s greatest benefit—it’s revelation of the almighty God whom we do not have the capacity to apprehend directly. As we enter this fall season I encourage you to keep your eyes wide open. All around us is the evidence of both God’s love and presence.
(I took the images above a few years ago on a September trip to the Canadian Rockies.)