The Creator of Everything I Love
When I was in college a friend asked me what I thought of God, or more precisely, how I felt in relation to him. I answered her without really thinking about it much: “I see God like a rich uncle.” I said. “He loves me because we are family, and he certainly has a lot to offer if I would ask for it. But he isn’t really interested in my life and he has his successful business to run, so we don’t tend to interact very much.”
I don’t think my impression was very unique. Most of the people I knew seemed to be operating in the same fashion; we had a particular set of behavior to attend to, certain decorum to keep up, and if we were well behaved, one day we might get a nice birthday present, and there was the lake house to look forward to once we reached the end.
Life felt like some kind of boarding school we had been sent to, and if our report card showed good progress, then maybe we would be invited to join in the family business once our studies were completed. A strange and distant relationship that, if I’m honest, I still slip into when I’m operating on autopilot.
Who is this Creator? What is he really like? Questions that have been asked and answered since man began to ponder his place in the world. I’ve sat in philosophy discussions, I’ve listened to doctrine lectures, and I’ve seen the tug-of-war between pastors and priests. Words like “just” and “perfect” and “loving” and “all powerful” do nothing to paint a vibrant picture. Four colors are all that are needed in the hands of a master, yet I’m back to some image like the bearded and terrible cloud-parting god in Monty Python.
Uncovering and understanding the personality of God is, fortunately, not something we’ve been left to figure out on our own. There are those who have gone before us, saints and wise minds that can discern more of the puzzle than I can (for which I am grateful). But they aren’t all we have. In fact, they aren’t even among the most helpful guides given to us. Consider Creation.
One of the most helpful ideas I have clung to in recent days is this simple thought: God is the Creator of everything I love.
Mangoes, rivers, sagebrush, chipmunks, wheat, hops, coral, manta rays, laughter, humor, gas giants floating in space, pterodactyls, rest, sunshine, the tide. Add to these the fact that whoever this extravagant creator is also gave us the gift of imagination and creativity that we might join and add our own: water boxer engines, poetry, impressionism, bluegrass, wine presses, telescopes…
The world is more vast and more wonderful than any fairytale.
It is filled with playfulness and power, from the breaching whale to the shooting star.
Only when I stop for a moment and remember that everything, everything I find beautiful and full of wonder and worth living for was set there by the Creator does my isolation shatter. I have only to look around to begin to understand what kind of Person created all of this, and what that might say about my relation to whoever this is. Next to the Incarnation (which can be hard to sort out from the stained glass), Creation is the closest reflection of his personality we have.
Why is there humor, if he does not laugh? Why are there crags and precipices and volcanoes, if he is not dangerous? Why is there lavish beauty, if he does not also stop to watch the flower open its petals to the sun? Can I deem to feel more than anyone else, or to see more or to taste more? If creation is at times enough to make my heart burst, how must it reflect on the heart that made it all?
This isn’t theology or doctrine or philosophy. It is the attempt of the child to make sense of the heart of the father, judging his goodness by what he puts into my hands.
He created everything I love. He shares in my joy and delights when I pause to take in the cry of a sandhill crane, rolling over the willow-flats in the dusk of a summer evening. If he created what I love and gave me the capacity to do so, he must be closer to my heart than I guessed. Or rather, my heart must have been searching for his long before I knew it was searching for anything.