Can You Hear Me Now? Part 1

I am seated in my office surrounded by windows. A glance outside shows that the burning heat of summer is doing its best to linger, but when I step outside at night I can feel that fall is slowly winning the battle of the seasons. There are a few simple wisps of white in the sky sticking to the blue like the cobweb that is stubbornly attached to the corner of my windows. But, even with the clouds, the crisp blue of the sky is a striking image against the green of the trees. It is the sun that makes the image possible. Our tiny solar system exists and feeds off this star that we call the sun. When it is at its highest I can catch it in my hand or cover it with my thumb giving me the the momentary satisfaction that I am a giant and the sun is my toy. These games are an illusion. The sun is a monster; a roaring beast made up of gasses, radiation, energy, and raw power. Every second the sun converts 700 million tons of hydrogen into helium and energy through a nuclear explosion that sends massive amounts of energy hurtling through space, all while heating our tiny planet and illuminating our world in the form of light. The light is then absorbed, literally drunk in by the trees and plants, giving them the ability to breathe and reproduce, giving off oxygen that I am pulling into my lungs right now as I sit here typing in my little office. My tiny thumb is no real threat to the sun.

The sun's power is only matched by its size. The sun contains 99.8% of all the mass in our entire solar system. Our tiny planet is a dust particle compared to the gargantuan bulk of the sun. Its mass overwhelms and overshadows anything and everything that is around it. The magnetism contained within its iron core lassos planets and moons around itself with an unyielding grip that results in our days, nights, and seasons. I imagine the sun to be a child playing in his backyard, swinging a braided rope above his head pretending to be a cowboy in a wild west show. The sun is the never ending cowboy of the sky. We are all a part of his game, swung around as a plaything at breakneck speed through the atmosphere, bathed in his light. Sometimes a glass of lemonade and a porch swing gives us the illusion of calm. Calm is not our reality. The galaxy is raw power and we are in constant submission to its whims.

Scientists have grand theories about how the sun got there and why it does what it does. It amazes them that if the earth were just a few feet farther away or closer to this star, that life on our planet would be impossible. A few feet closer and the earth’s surface would burn in melting heat, a few feet farther away and our planet would be gripped in an eternal ice age. They say its pretty lucky for us that our planet sits where it does. I watched a NOVA program on the sun where scientists gave theories proposed by famous physicists and piled fact after fact into my unqualified mind about how the sun works, and how close we are to understanding its origin. I smiled while I watched it because I know where the sun came from and why it's there. I feel bad for all those folks who have spent all that time and money on education and theories. There is a reason the sun is there, and it isn’t to present physicists with puzzles that will frustrate them to the grave. The sun is not a science experiment, the sun is a storyteller. Just like when we used to sit on someone's knee as a child, enraptured by stories that stoked our imaginations, the sun is asking us to listen everyday.  It has a story to tell, and it is a master at telling it.

“A story?” you ask. Yes, a story. God is speaking through this ball of fire, just as he is speaking through the blue sky and the green trees. He is speaking so loudly that Paul would write in Romans 1 that no one has any excuse for not knowing that there is a God because he is shouting so loudly through his creation. Our eternal problem is that we have forgotten how to hear it. We have plugged our ears and blinded our eyes to the reality of His power. It frightens us to think that something so powerful as a God who can create a sun like this is real, and so we make believe that all of this is a result of random chance and dumb luck. We read in the Bible that we have given each other degrees and diplomas to act like we are the smartest people in the world, when in reality we are deserving of the biggest dunce cap in history. He wants us to know him. He is speaking all around to tell us what he is like. Can you hear it?

Children can hear it loud and clear. They approach the world with wide eyed wonder and exhilaration as they experience things for the first time. It is a terrifying thing to be on the other side of the glass from a lion for the first time, or to be held in your father’s arms at the edge of the sea. You don’t have to tell a kid at the edge of the Grand Canyon that it is an impressive hole in the ground because the canyon itself does all the talking. And then we ship them off to school so teachers can beg them not to be so impressed because we can explain all of it, and the stuff we can’t we will soon be able to. The Grand Canyon you say, just a deep river bed. A lion you ask, just a big cat on steroids. The human experience and imagination, don’t be that impressed, after all we are just a big mass of cells that crawled its way out of a cosmic ooze that was set in motion by a big explosion that came from nothing. “Wait,” we ask, “it came from nothing? How is that possible.” “We don’t know yet but we will,” they say, and we believe them because after all they went to college. And slowly but surely our eyes and ears slowly begin to believe that the fools are the wise and the wise are the fools, and the ones who claim they can still hear the sun and creation telling us the story belong in a mental institution.

While scientists reduce creation into numbers and facts that can be contained in a textbook (and theologians do the same), we begin to lose the fact that this creation is actually there to tell us the story of its Creator. Creation is constantly doing what it was created to do, the same thing you and I were created to do along with it, and that is to brag about and point to with excitement the one who did all the creating. The universe at its core is a grand narrative of life, and creativity, and power, and beauty. It is pulling back the curtain to reveal the maker of it all. It is giving us physical handles to the eternal Spirit of God. It is shouting that God is here and He wants to know us and he wants us to know him. It is there to speak to us the truth about something far greater than nuclear explosions at the sun’s core. The sun is declaring one message, it always has been, it will till it burns itself out and the curtain closes on our tiny solar system.

As powerful as the sun is it is not alone. The sun itself is a grain of sand in a collection of stars that exist to tell the same story, to sing the same song. The suns voice alone is grand and unimaginable, but when we understand that it is a single sound in a choir of countless millions it becomes overwhelming to the mind. The Psalmist understood this when he wrote,
The heavens declare the glory of God,
   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
   and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
   whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
   and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
   and its circuit to the end of them,
   and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Can you hear them shouting now? They are saying, “God is glorious! He is greater and more powerful than you could ever imagine. Feel our heat, see our power, these things are a drop in the bucket of what God can do!” The scientists can’t hear them shouting...can you?
What if we could learn to hear the voice of God and to experience his power. What is he saying?  For those who feel lost, He is telling you how to be found. For those who are broken, he is showing you how to be whole again. For those who are afraid, he wants to speak to you words of peace. For those who are confused, He wants to paint you a beautiful picture of His character and bring clarity in your chaos. He is speaking in everything. Listen and be amazed.

The sun and stars give us understanding to a broader truth. God has always spoken through metaphor. The sun is more than gasses, it is story. The sea is more than water, it is a representation of God’s voice. Every butterfly in the sky, every child running through a field, and every raccoon digging through my trash at night is an echo of God’s creating imagination.  In the beginning Jesus said, “let there be light,” and here it is to this day echoing in obedience to the command to exist. And the echo is resounding the story of his glory, and we were created to hear it and respond to it.

Some people ask why is God hiding from us, why doesn’t he reveal himself to us? This question is as absurd as standing on the beach and asking where the ocean is. God is shouting at us, “Open your eyes and ears, learn how to see and hear.”

If God had only chosen to speak to us through His creation it would have been amazing enough but He didn’t stop there. God went literal so that we could have exact words that he wanted to say to us written down. The Bible has stood the test of time as the greatest letter written by one person to another. God through time and space recruited stenographers to write down his words for us so that we could have an exact picture of who he is. But even in his letter to us God used story. The Bible doesn’t read like a list of pool rules or tax law. It begins and ends with powerful narrative of man’s fall and God’s salvation. If all God wanted was for us to be obedient good boys and girls and just follow the rules the Bible could have been a lot shorter. It would have been easy for God to have given us a couple of pages of rules and a few statements about who he is and left it at that. Instead God has given us a book that engages us heart, mind, and soul. Why? Because God wants more than a planet full of good boys and girls. God wants a people that know Him intimately. God is looking for relationship. Relationship comes as two people know each other deeper and deeper...heart, mind, body, and soul.

As amazing as the Bible is God went even more literal. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. God himself became a man in the form of Jesus so that we could understand even more. Jesus understood the importance of teaching his disciples how to see and hear the love and heart of God. Jesus loved using Metaphors. As they would walk along he would teach them about his Father through metaphor. He would point to a field and say, “the Kingdom of God is like that field.” Or he would tell them a story of a farmer or a landowner and say, “the Kingdom of God is like this and this.” He told his fisherman friends that he would, “make them fishers of men.” He told an uppity pharisee that his birth and status was meaningless and that he must, “be born again.” He said that faith was like a mustard seed and that birds and flowers showed the care of God for his people. The New Testament tells us that over all Jesus was met with a bunch of blank stares while he was telling them this. He was telling one story but they wanted to hear another one. Be encouraged that the disciples were really slow learners. It took them a long time to really hear the voice of Jesus. But they got it, and so can we!

God is speaking to you in this way. He wants you to learn to hear his voice and see his hands at work. He wants you to see his glory in the stars, his beauty in the flowers, his power in the sea, and his care for you in how he cares for the birds in your front yard. Listen. Be still. His voice is everywhere.

Written by Chuck Hooten