The Planks of the Faith: Remembering for Re-Membering, Part 6
Welcome to the table! Anyone “running the good race” (Acts 20:24; 2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24) is welcome at the table—as we’re inspired to treat ourselves to a consistent diet of God’s truth and love, lived out in word and in deed.
Our “Plank of the Faith” this week takes into account the most creative and utterly astonishing act we could ever imagine—if we had imaginations even scarcely big enough—The Creation of All Things.
Please allow me to offer three life- and faith-defining experiences and consequent truisms that are tied to the crucial concept of Creation.
Aspen, Colorado, 1980—When I was running, cycling, hiking, skiing, and climbing in the Rockies, I once told my dear friend Father Tom Dentici, “Hey, I discovered that running in God’s creation is providing me the freedom of not being in church and worshipping God in that way!”
St. Louis, Missouri, 1990—One of many times when I asked God to grow my faith, He answered by placing me in a months-long study of Genesis, chapter 1, 2 (the story of creation) via, “The Battle for the Beginning”, by John MacArthur.
St. Louis, Missouri, 2002—As I fell to my knees next to my mortally wounded Dad’s body, I fell into a freefall that I felt would never end—until God answered my outcry with three verses from the Bible, the first of which was Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” It was just the first pillar of a foundation I needed!
Please consider the True Truth of these three stories. We can’t go into the richness and array of details each deserves, but I hope you will carefully consider what God’s design in Creation includes, and its impact upon you and your faith walk.
The Biblical Creation narrative is not only as important as an, “In the beginning…” precedent of any kind, but it also logically implicates all things that “follow beginnings” as the outflow of ALL means and ends thereafter:
Consummation is directly tethered to God’s Creation—and all else in between the two makes perfect sense, or is nonsense, if either end is compromised in any way.
1) The Dilemma of Displaced Worship—While living in the Rockies for nearly 20 years, I played in God’s creation for many miles and tons of time. The combination of the two (exertion and duration) resulted in a deep-seated idol that enthralled and entwined my heart, my emotions, and my life.
Until one fine Sunday morning as I had just finished a 30-mile roundtrip trail run from Aspen to Crested Butte—the third of its kind that week—when a “Godcidental friend” asked me why he hadn’t seen me in church lately. I coyly yet confidently answered that I was at worship while running in the mountains, in creation that God, after all, had created!
[Inject a pre-Homer Simpson, “D’ohh!”]
It was then that my Godcidental pal Father Tom Dentici lovingly yet boldly brought me up short. All he had to say in his inimitable Italian way was, “Doz…” He said no more… Father Tom didn’t need to.
In an instant, even before that instant, I knew my self-impugned and pietistic quip would not bear up to the scrutiny of a child… let alone a priest of 35 years. If it weren’t for the stinging ludicrousness, it would have been laughable.
I was caught with my fig leaf down… There I stood, strong in myself and yet utterly exposed and weak for displacing the worship only God Himself is due. I was foolishly deceiving myself by worshipping the creation rather than The Creator (Romans 1:18-32).
However, I was with a friend who loved me nonetheless; and that made all the difference: Figleafless yet covered by incarnate grace!
Ever since this time, I have never praised the creation devoid of prefacing the praise by lifting up a far, far higher praise of The Creator.
Please note, there is no better, unending, and tireless way to enjoy God’s creation, in all of its most grand and tiniest details, than enjoying God Himself first, more and more, each and every day.
Taking great care of what we worship—and we all worship something—is the best care we can take of our heart, emotions, and life!
2) The Disaster of Doctrinal Divides—I’ve gotten many unexpected, counterintuitive answers from God when I’ve beseeched that He grow my faith. Receiving a 12-tape series about Biblical Creation by John MacArthur (“The Battle for the Beginning”), was just the sort of “who-would-have-thunk-it?” answer that I never anticipated.
Over many days and weeks I had the absolute honor and pleasure of better understating not only what the Triune God of the universe’s involvement was with His-Their creation “in the beginning”, but also how it has been so effectively and systematically attacked and dismantled by the anti-theist, naturalistic worldview of our day.
Of special note included in the wisdom I was granted during this time, the very title, “the battle for the beginning”, revolutionized the way I thought about not only “ALL BEGINNINGS”, but why the world, the flesh, and the devil places so much importance on deceiving us about “origins”, “identity”, “name”, “self”, “existence”, “truths”… I.e., DOCTRINE… of all sorts.
[Anti-God is always anti-Truth. The erosion of doctrine, of truth, is the aim of the rampant pluralism, relativism of this post-modern era.]
Of all of the DOCTRINAL DIVIDES that have taken place throughout history, the many deceptions concerning the universe’s origins—God’s sovereign creation and sustaining of ALL things from nothing—has brought more hell and disaster on earth than we can ever dare imagine.
Discounting the import and consequences of doctrinal divides is a disaster and the doom of every heart, home, nation, and civilization.
3) The Delight of Freefalls and Foundations—As I fell to my knees in the snow, and next to my Dad’s body on Christmas night 2002, I fell, and fell, and fell… into a hellish and dark freefall that I thought would never end. I was so terrified I cried out to God to please catch me, to stop the freefall, to help out of a place more terrifying than anything I have ever… could ever… experience.
God’s Word, coming from both inside and outside of me, provided the perfect answer and relief in the form of three Scripture verses; the first of which is germane to the plank of the day, “In the beginning, God created the heavens sand the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
As I knew in part at the time, but later discovered in much more detail, one of God’s most predictable answers to those in a freefall, a trial of tragic or of tiny proportions, was to remind the freefalling sufferer of Who He was, and how He could be trusted—as the God of Creation and Sustaining over all things known and unknown!
Suffering—“the paper cuts of every day disappoints and the cataclysmic freefalls of life”—is unavoidable.
Yet God has created the foundations of our faith in Creation, Christ, and Covenant that are offered to not only stop the freefall but also provide a foundation upon which we can Know, Grow, and Sow more and more effectively as the suffering sanctifies, and conforms us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.
Of all the times God quiets the wailing, dries the weeping, and attends to the whining, it is with the proto-sufferer Job that is one of my favorite.
Please take careful note, after thirty-eight chapters of wailing, weeping, and whining, Chapter 38, verses 1-4 begins,
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’”
And God continues for four chapters, 129 verses, to extol Himself while exhorting, excoriating, encouraging, and elaborating to Job (and his hapless friends) about God’s creating and sustaining the universe.
In every freefall, God offers us a foundation—beginning with, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
This has theological, doctrinal, and yet hugely practical consequences: The next time you’re heart-broken, go outside, breathe deep the nature around you, look up into the sky, breathe deep again, and remember God has said and promised, in CREATION, CHRIST, AND COVENANT, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never (ever, ever, ever…) leave or forsake you” (Dt 31:6—parenthesis added)!
The Plank of the Faith: Article 12: The Creation of All Things
“We believe that the Father created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, when it seemed good to him, by his Word– that is to say, by his Son.
He has given all creatures their being, form, and appearance, and their various functions for serving their Creator.
Even now he also sustains and governs them all, according to his eternal providence, and by his infinite power, that they may serve man, in order that man may serve God.
He has also created the angels good, that they might be his messengers and serve his elect.
Some of them have fallen from the excellence in which God created them into eternal perdition; and the others have persisted and remained in their original state, by the grace of God.
The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions.
So then, by their own wickedness they are condemned to everlasting damnation, daily awaiting their torments.” (The Belgic Confession of Faith, 1561)
God’s Final Word: His Son in Creation
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:1-4—emphasis added). Amen and Amen!
Please spend some time, mediation, and sharing within your community of faith, the fare above and the Resources offered below.
The Battle for The Beginning