Many years ago, many springs past, I was sitting in my junior high science class looking out the window on a beautiful spring day. The teacher was explaining how all of life had started with a big bang, eons before, that everything in the cosmos had originated from one little bitty dot of a point out somewhere in nothingness. I didn’t believe him. First of all, I had been told differently my whole life. I had been told that God had made it all. I hadn’t heard anything about any old explosion. Second of all, it didn’t help that this was the same teacher who was the basketball coach and had earlier cut me from the basketball team; I didn’t trust his judgment.
As this teacher, Mr. Stone, droned on and on about the expanding universe, I recall looking out the open classroom window. It was a warm day, and I remember being beckoned out of the room by the trees budding forth in their lofty green chorus, the birds jumping and hopping about, singing and chirping, not bothering with flight, for it must have been too pleasant on the ground that particular day. Being in East Tennessee, there were many trees, standing together as a crowded vista, each one eagerly thrust into the clean sunshine, each branch the hand of a friend waving me outside, asking me to ignore my science teacher and come outside to play.
And how I wanted to be outside! The teacher’s voice went on about light years and interstellar gas, while the birds chittled and chortled in concert with the chattering squirrels. I remember looking back at Mr. Stone, himself planted on a torn leather stool, his hands smudged with wet-erase ink, his brow knitted as he drew and diagrammed furiously on the overhead screen. I then looked again out through the window. The sun’s rays shot down, through and about everything, our Creator highlighting the very work of His hands. Even then, as a self-centered pre-teen, it was hard not to take notice of all that lay before and to know that it couldn’t have just happened by accident. My science teacher might go on and on about some big bang eons before, about some former primal point in nothingness exploding as a giant bottle rocket from nowhere gone bad, but the hopping birds and playful squirrels told me otherwise.
Romans 1:20 tells us that, “… 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.”
As I sat there, the sounds of spring overtaking me and drowning out Mr. Stone, I wondered if he himself really believed what he was saying. David wrote in Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” I wanted Mr. Stone to stop talking so, and to come look out the window with me, to witness the spring morning, our tiny angled take on the great universe.
I also recall seeing what I believed to be the season’s first fly buzzing around the outside of the pane. I marveled at his quickness and wondered what could be of possible interest to any creature on the windowpane of a science class. Did the fly have nowhere better to be? Was it listening in? If I could lasso the tiny beast with a tiny rope, could I then tie it down onto my desk and make it listen to this man going on and on? I wondered if Mr. Stone was ever a boy himself, captivated by a new spring. Had he ever sat in class hearing the birds call his name? Did he no longer smell the earthy warmth of an April morning? Did Mr. Stone ever look at a fly and wish himself to be free? Free from textbooks full of facts but empty of wisdom, free from chalkboards and overheads, free from doubt? Did he really believe it all came from a point in space just suddenly bursting ages before? Was he one of the fools I had read about in Psalms?
Years ago, on what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday, some disciples were making joyful noises about the glory of the Creator, King Jesus. Some Pharisees asked Jesus to make the celebrants simmer down, to which He replied, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
It is quite simple; creation cries out that there is a Creator. Some don’t like that, and tell themselves they don’t believe it, maybe because that means they themselves are created, and not the boss. Some don’t like to not be the boss.
Look out into the heavens on a clear night. Stand on the shore and cast your glance out over the open sea. Listen to an especially moving melody. Consider the inner workings of the very eyes and ears you use to do these things, and then consider the foolishness of proclaiming man to be the boss.
I also remember the question occurring to me whether flies were ever born crippled or retarded, or maybe good at one thing and not another. I thought of guys my dad knew who were good at rebuilding cars, and other guys he knew who were good at reading, or bowling, or woodworking. Were some flies good at some things and other flies not? What about the little birds I envied out there? (For I, too, longed to hop along the warm ground). Were any of them better at some things than others? Was there somewhere out in the treetops an all-star team of birds especially good at flying?
In my junior high mind, I realized that God did create man as a special being. I had heard we were created in His image, and wow! I believed it. I knew that some kids were taller or more musical or better at doing math problems. I saw it myself. I especially knew that some kids were better at basketball than I was.
I think back now and I remember the trees and the blue sky and the white sunshine highlighting it all, and even the birds and the little fly. I also remember my pal Timmy over on the other end of the room looking out his window, he himself amazed at the happy creatures. He had the same look of awe on his face, and I remember realizing that I wanted to be his friend forever.
In Me And George And I, GW, a fellow lover of all things outside, explains the newborn spring like this: “The sunlight shines as a beacon messenger to my very heart. It is indeed the woman who hides from me in her cold house out of season, yet comes out in full regale in the spring, donning her green tresses so slowly, daily teasing me, batting her eyes, alluring, and I am David to Bathsheba. I run into the forest seeking to get lost. I cannot help myself. This is spring.”
Perhaps I learned that day more about science than was in Mr. Stone’s lesson plans. Our good God gave us spring for our pleasure, and maybe He gave us certain talents for our pleasure too. Or for His pleasure. Perhaps some of us are good at some things just because He wanted it that way, and that’s good enough. Perhaps being good at science, a noble pursuit, should be viewed as yet another good gift, and not as a permission slip to deny the Giver.
It was enough for Job, way back when, to know that we can’t understand everything about the way God does things. We are finite; God isn’t. Job lost his children, his riches, and his health. His three friends pined and pined, but none of them gave good measure. God said to Job, simply, “Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?”
That was enough for Job. I’m thinking it should be enough for me too. God didn’t say anything about some big bang.