Excerpt from "In the Wind"
This week's blog is an excerpt from my upcoming book, In The Wind: Sensing the Nearness of God in the Ordinary Moments of Life. This is also the title of the current teaching series on Sunday mornings during October.
Belief in something bigger presupposes something grand and hopeful: a reason. Reason answers why.
I’ve asked my fair share of why’s, which all too often leaned on the unfavorable and cynical side of things. A few years ago, I rode the elevator to the third floor of Children’s Hospital to visit a young teenage boy with intestinal problems whom I knew. Turns out he would be fine, but that was not the case for the patient sharing a room with him.
This boy was curled up in a ball, lying in what looked like an oversized crib. I was shocked to learn of his age—he was fourteen, the same age as the boy I was visiting, though he looked no larger than a five year old. A profound sadness welled up in me. Certainly not because I felt this young man to hold any less value than any other human—all human life holds an intrinsic value based on humanness, not on size, intellect, skill, or future prospect. It’s just that that kind of life is not what I would wish for anyone. I walked from that room, followed the polished linoleum tile back to the elevator, pressed “Ground Floor,” and asked, “Why?”
We humans feel the need to make sense of things, to know that a bigger purpose exists. The more we know about the “reasons” behind any given situation, the more we feel justified in making a judgment call as to whether it was good or bad. Here’s the problem: we don’t know all the possible outcomes given differing possibilities. Our finite minds can only grasp one thing at a time—we can weave together a few more to create a narrative of sorts, but we have no ability to arrange all the pieces of fabric and colors of thread to make complete sense of any situation on our own. So we ask “why,” in hopes that an answer will come, all the while knowing that the full answer to that question is well out of our reach.
Then there are the why’s which catapult people into careers as great scientists, inventors, engineers, chefs, coaches, teachers. When we ask why one pinch of salt is better than three, why more air pressure might be helpful to a new flight design, why an antibody interacts with blood cells and fights sickness, or why throwing a four-seam rather than two-seam fastball generates more speed, we are propelled into better and more efficient ways of doing things. These are good and helpful things. To have a reason for anything, whether an event or object, good or bad, brings us to a beginning and end all at the same time. X caused Y. And simply put, Y makes sense. Therefore, so does X.
But it goes far deeper than that. There are bigger questions out there, like, “is there a reason for me?” It’s a valid question. And if there is a reason for me, what is it? And who holds that information? The mere thought projects our minds upward and outward. Someone out there knows.
There is a reason for the trees which line the lakefront shores, a reason for the water and the frogs jumping in the shallows. There is a reason for the sound of children splashing and for the beauty of the sun reflecting off the ripples of tiny waves. There is a reason for the birds migrating south from colder places and for raccoons prying the lids off garbage cans. There is a reason for the events of our lives which teach us big things and grow our little minds, and this reason lies in a realm beyond our understanding.
The premise of this book is that God, that someone out there who is bigger than us, desires to be known. He has no interest in being covert, irrelevant, or unknown. We sense something more, and for good reason. There is just too much evidence to not sense it, however inexplicable that sense may be. So God, generally speaking, displays His creativity to everyone, making the transcendent tangible, the impossible reachable. Specifically, however, He notices you. Generally, He spreads a blanket of goodness over the whole earth. Specifically, He loves you.