One day – hopefully soon – I will write a post which is all “God is great! He has lifted me from the pit!” but I’m not there just yet. And I’m guessing that more than a few of you aren’t either. I feel like I’m in that spot just after the darkest point of the night when hints of a coming sunrise lighten the far eastern border of the sky ever so slightly. I can sense it coming, but it’s still awfully dark out here.
Anyways, a week or two ago I asked God if he was ever going to bring me out of the darkness I’ve been wandering in. And he said, “I swear I will.” Under other circumstances, a promise like this would lift my spirits. But I’m in endurance mode, so it’s re-assuring, yes. But it’s a bit like telling a woman experiencing contraction on top of contraction that she won’t be in labor forever. Good to know and hang onto. Doesn’t do much to change what’s going on right at the moment. But I will say that if it’s true for me, it’s true for you are well if you are also laboring in the dark. God has sworn that he will bring us out of this.
Anyways, the next day I was thinking about my own life and how intractable my problems seem to be. How everything I can think of to fix or change them has been tried and failed. How fixing any of it would seem to require an act of God. And even then, there’s always the very likely possibility that people would refuse to respond to even an act of God. Not only that, but I thought of how in some ways the challenges I’m facing seem in some ways to be a microcosm of what is going on in the world at large. There are these hints of sunrise on the far borders, but really our problems just seem too entrenched and unsolvable. And too many people seem utterly resistant to changing.
I confessed, “I just don’t know if I believe that you can do what you say you’re going to do, God.”
Right away my attention was drawn to a coneflower plant growing next to my front steps. Plants perform this magical alchemy of turning sunlight into food. And they use quantum physics while doing it. The number of leaves, petals and seeds the plant grows follow the pattern of Fabonacci numbers. (If you’re not familiar with Fabonacci numbers, they are a series of numbers which show up over and over and over again in the universe for reasons we don’t understand. It’s a pattern which is so consistent it seems like it ought to mean something, but we have no idea what that something might be.) The workings of a simple, common garden plant are so intricate and precise that it boggles the mind if you stop to think about it.
It’s ridiculous that such a thing should exist, really. And yet it doesn’t just exist, it exists as the result of a long, elaborate, yet elegant process which stretches back through the course of life on this planet, the birth and death of stars long ago and into the porriage of particles present at the big bang. Go back to absolute chaos and through an unimaginable amount of time and somehow, you get a coneflower with it’s impossibly neat, exact geometric pattern at the center and an equally impossible bee feeding on it. And God says, “do you really think I can’t do what I’ve said I will do?”
It still seems impossible to me that God can take my life and fix it much less that he can do the same with the rest of the world. (Actually, fixing the rest of the world seems much more likely than being able to fix my own particular life at the moment!) And the truth is that one of my great fears is that my life is just going to go on as it has for the last 40 years for the next 40 and that I’ll continue to be helpless to stop it. That all of God’s promises really are for the next life and not this one – at least for me. It took many billions of years to make the coneflower, after all.
And yet there’s this very faint light just starting on the horizon. So now, a few times a day, I go out and look at that coneflower outside my front door and remember God’s words: “I swear I will.” And for as long as the manna lasts, I can believe that just maybe he can. And will.