“When I have a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion—then I go out and paint the stars.” —Vincent Van Gogh
In a turbulent world, a turbulent man had it right. Before he painted, Vincent was a failed preacher who remembered that the heavens still declared the glory of God. In Alex Haley’s novel Roots, Kunte Kinte’s ancestor held his newborn son heavenward, declaring, “Behold, the only thing greater than you!” Carole King wrote in her song Up On a Roof, “At night, the stars, they put on a show for free…”
Turbulence drowns in a sea of peace when we take time to go outside and just look up. The Heavens still declare God’s Glory—He made them, you know, and He is bigger than all of it. Best of all, He loves you.
Hyperbole? Sure. Poetry? Of course. Understated? Infinitely.
Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song…
—From a poem by Rabbi Meyer, Worms, Germany, 1096, adapted by F.M. Lehman, 1917
Definitely my Favorite.
I love the fact that God didn’t ask us to figure Him out. We can’t. Even living eternally with Him, I doubt we ever could—and we might not even want to try. As analytical Westerners, we naturally task ourselves to explain things like how God came to be, how He made the universe, and what the end of the world will be like, because being able to explain God, even a little, makes Him a safer, more predictable God. But Aslan is not a tame Lion. God didn’t explain Himself, He revealed Himself. He can never be measured, only worshipped…
“The Jewish God…is awesome, invisible, the eternal creator, the reason why all is as it is. But belief in such a God tells you nothing about how things work, what they are made of, or how the creator has structured the universe in which we have to find our way. In the beginning, the majesty of God closes all questions.” —Professor John Gaskin, Trinity College
How great Thou art.
Where did everything come from? Such a big question requires a bigger answer (though not always a popular one). Of course I’m speaking of God.
Why are we here? There are many ways people might answer this question, but the bottom line is perhaps the biggest one of all—and it even reveals why we have a universe…
“He works on us in all sorts of ways. But above all, He works on us through each other. Men are mirrors, or “carriers” of Christ to other men. Usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. It is so easy to think that the church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services…the church exists for no other purpose but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other reason.” —C.S. Lewis
Thanks, Jack, and Happy Sunday, church.