It is truly a most Christian exercise to extract a sentiment of piety from the works and appearances of nature. Our Saviour expatiates on a flower, and draws from it the delightful argument of confidence in God. He gives us to see that taste may be combined with piety, and that the same heart may be occupied with all that is serious in the contemplations of religion, and be, at the same time, alive to the charms and loveliness of nature. Thomas Chalmers
Psalm 104 says, ‘‘Bless the LORD, O my soul, O LORD my God, thou art very great; (vs 1) . . . He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works’’ (vs 13). In a sin-soaked culture it is easy for God’s children to forget that this world was made the way God wanted it to be made and it is a mistake for us to let the fallenness of it block our sight of God’s handiwork.
Perhaps it takes a week such as this one, waking each morning to the song of the Lark Bunting and the crisp air of the Colorado mountains (and the constant distant roar of the most ferocious of beasts: 200 junior campers), to see such testimony as pine trees, growing from every angle of ground, all pointing like a million church steeples toward their Creator; or stars of the big dipper, brighter than temporal lights, still pointing to the North Star with Divine consistency as my father showed me years ago.
It was the first Adam who saw most dramatically the contrast of the perfect and fallen worlds. He was brought into a world of perfect harmony and peace. The function of every star and season and tree and stream worked together more smoothly than the most expensive Swiss watch. Adam’s work and trade, thoughts and ideas, blended precisely with God’s created purpose, enhancing its melody. Man’s purpose for existence and labor were never in doubt or regret.
Adam had a simple stewardship. It was overwhelmingly positive with only one negative. The inability to live with the restriction and the prompting of the Evil One cost Adam the perfect environment. Now his life would be one of recapturing, as best as possible, the former glory where God’s presence was so clearly visible. His vocation would be in danger of clouding rather than enhancing God’s created purpose for man. The culture formed by his descendents, who never walked with their Creator in the cool of the evening, would quickly digress to a newly accepted norm of ‘‘every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart’’ being ‘‘only evil continually.’’ And after thousands of years his descendents would need, periodically, to retreat to the mountains from such a culture in order to readjust their human priorities.
The second Adam, Jesus Christ, also saw the contrast between fallen and perfect worlds. But unlike the first Adam who mostly regretted an old world, He anticipated as well a new world where the breeches of sin would be repaired and man would again live in harmony with his Creator. During His brief time on earth, the Savior opened the windows both of the lost world of Eden and the coming world of a new heaven and earth. C. S. Lewis, in his marvelous book, Miracles, called these works of Christ miracles of the old nature and miracles of the new nature.
In miracles of the old nature Jesus repaired what the first Adam broke. By turning water into wine he quickened the vine that distills the dew and rain. By multiplying the fish in the nets he momentarily fulfilled the Creator’s command to fill the earth. By turning one loaf of bread into many he became sower, reaper and baker in an instant. Should not God’s own children see the mountain stream that produces the Brook Trout as a multiplying of fish? Should we not see the wheat fields of the plains as huge bread mills where God continues to multiply the loaves? Should we not see the Concord grape vine as a divine press turning water into wine? By doing so we are not minimizing the interruptions of nature we call miracles, but we are attesting to their purpose as Christ showed.
In miracles of the new nature Jesus advanced the creative clock and gave man a glimpse of a future world. Walking on water never has been a normal part of this life. The laws of the old nature dictate against it now but not in the future life. Jesus knew Nathanael’s whereabouts and the disciple’s thoughts in ways only a future life will know. Foreshadowing the greatest miracle of the new nature, the Lord reversed the process of death itself, brought on by the first Adam’s disobedience, by making death come back to life instead of the other way around. Bruce Lockerbie wrote, “Faith in Jesus of Nazareth recognizes his sovereignty as Lord of time and space . . . He is the focal point from which all being takes its meaning, the source of all coherence in the universe. He is the reality for which Newton’s laws and Einstein’s theory are approximations. He is the fulcrum, the keystone; in T. S. Eliot’s phrase, he is ‘the still point of the turning world.’ Around him and him alone all else may be said to radiate. He is the Cosmic Center.”
So what are we doing here? First of all, we are testifying of the original creation by living life the way God created us to live. Our vocations and vacations recognize and are in harmony with the original creation as if it were still untainted by the disobedience of one. The construction of a machine that enhances our productivity or the moonlight stroll under the canopy of God, are all our created business. Second of all, we are inviting people to view the new creation through the miraculous means of the new birth, when a person releases the present sinful world to make reservations in the next. The old creation groans as an old windmill in the night breeze to be released from the present struggle. ‘‘Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. . . (for we walk by faith, not by sight).’’