September 8, 2003
Why Strangely Dim?
by David Zimmerman
I have two cats. Wait, I also have a point. I mention my cats because they, like you and I, are things of earth created by a watchful, careful God. They’re also cuter than I am; you wouldn’t have kept reading if I had opened with “I have a wart on my third knuckle.”
But back to the cats. Such divinely inspired stuff doesn’t grow dim without a catfight. And yet, Christians often disregard the things of earth. Some churches even sing about it:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
The insinuation is clear: nothing else warrants a close look once we’ve caught a glimpse of God. Fair enough. I can’t imagine what could be more compelling than the face of our Maker.
But why, then, all this stuff? Surely a world could be fashioned in which all we could see was God, with no other people, institutions, animals, plants or minerals to distract us. But that’s not the reality God created.
The prophet Isaiah once turned his eyes on God in full glory.
"I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lofty. . . . The house filled with smoke. And I said, 'Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King.'"
Maybe we’re better able to appreciate the glory of God after experiencing our failings and the failings of those around us. Prodigal creations celebrating God with clearer vision—that would be a happy ending. But Isaiah’s encounter is far from an ending; in fact, it serves as a beginning for his project: “Go and say to these people . . .”
Isaiah encounters God, and God sends him back from whence he came. Something smells funny.
The apostle Paul tells us that “what can be known about God is plain. . . . His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” We see all this stuff and recognize the glory of God. But if we are anything like Isaiah, God will quickly point us back toward the things he has made—the people who rub us wrong, the institutions we support or endure, the creation we steward or pollute.
The things of earth are important to God; they ought to be important to us as well. We each have a perspective limited by our location in space and time, but given that God created each of us from scratch and placed us where we are, when we are, who knows but that we were created for such a time and place as this?
So I propose that we explore the things of earth afresh, searching for what God has for us in them, and for them in us. God has created the things of earth—from cats to kids—for a purpose, and though they occasionally dim in the light of his glory, with his help we can see them more clearly than ever.