Well? Haven’t you ever wondered?
I always have so many things to do it’s almost impossible to be bored – and life is certainly not monotonous. But I always wondered about God. He created the earth. He knows how to do everything. He is omniscient. He has the book of Life, he has known and planned since before the foundations of the earth. There is nothing new to him. Is God bored?
Are you tired of G.K. Chesterton? (Assuming negative answer.) Good. Because I’m going to post him… again. Take a deep breath. Let it slowly out. Close your eyes for a second and forget about your job or everything you need to do before you go to sleep tonight. Listen to your heart beat for a moment, relax your body. Listen to the voices of nature – the autumn wind, the wild, rasping leaves against the pavement. (I am hoping you have a window open.) Now open your eyes, and read this.
(I had to get you calmed down enough, you see…)
All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight alement of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God….”
I think that’s enough.
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance. (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, ch. IV)
Are you still breathing? I could almost swear that when I read that for the first time I had stopped breathing for a full five minutes. I find apologetics to be as exciting as a novel.
I do not think God’s bored. I don’t think he wound up the earth at the beginning like a clock, and let it run its full course and then – whoop! the end! Haha! O Man, your play is ended. Thanks for the entertainment. Let’s calculate how many of you made it into heaven. Oh look! 144,000.
I don’t think he did that.
Question 11 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts into perspective my thoughts on how God acted after creation.
Q. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful perserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.
He didn’t wind it up like a clock and let it run. He didn’t create it and leave it, sit back, and wonder what man would do. Though he knows all things, though he ordains it, he yet takes an active role in the “perserving and governing” of all his creatures – not just humans – and all their actions. His work is evident in creation. He still makes the daisies. I thought perhaps he must get bored making the daisies, because it must be monotonous, and there was nothing new or exciting, but there… Chesterton proved me wrong.
Earlier in the book, he says:
How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? How can this queer cosmic town, with its many-legged citizens, with its monstrous and ancient lamps, how can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town and the comfort and honour of being our own town?
I feel that we must look at the world this way. God makes the daisies all alike – not because he must, but because it is his joy and delight to make all daisies alike. He makes the sun rise every morning – not necessarily because the sun MUST rise every morning, but because he wants it to rise every morning. He has created this cycle of life, and though he could change it with no difficulty, and blow up all the scientific laws and confuse the minds of men, he doesn’t. He runs it with skilled hands. Remember how he made the sun stand still in the sky in Joshua? How could he stop the cycle of life for that long? Even for three hours! Yet he perserved creation. “Yet we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we…” Monotony is boredom to us, yet I believe that we should look upon the “same and old” of nature as though it were “different and new.” Every time we see the “fields of rye, that clothe the world and meet the sky” (Tennyson) we must see it as though we had been blind at first. We have heard of the grass, and felt it, but have never seen it’s beauty… those billions of green fingers reaching and stretching towards the sun. For the five hundredth time, we must see it for the first time.
I used to think that everything was the same because it MUST be the same… that oaks were like oaks because God created an oak in the beginning, and now all oaks must resemble that first oak. Genetics, wot. But…What ho! Chesterton! I will take my bow, exit stage left, and allow you to take the floor.
“…I found the whole modern world talking scientific fatalism; saying that everything is as it must always have been, being unfolded without fault from the beginning. The leaf on the tree is green because it could never have been anything else. Now, the fairy-tale philosopher is glad that the leaf is green precisely because it might have been scarlet. He feels as if it had turned green an instant before he looked at it. He is pleased that snow is white on the strictly reasonable ground that it might have been black. Every colour has in it a bold quality as of choice; the red of garden roses is not only decisive but dramatic, like suddenly spilt blood. He feels that something has been done. But the great determinists of the nineteenth century were strongly against this native feeling that something had happened an instant before. In fact, according to them, nothing ever really had happened since the beginning of the world. Nothing ever had happened since existence had happened; and even about the date of that they were not very sure.
I feel as though our world is too rushed to feel the excitement and beauty of the green, green earth. We get up in the morning, sometimes feeling like slugs, and we don’t notice the fresh wind, or the autumn rain, or the warm sun, or the delirium of colors in the world. After a time, if our conscience really gets to us, we might say “Good morning” to people. Yet, putting aside all convention and politeness, perhaps we could reach the point at which we say “good morning” because we feel that it MUST be a good morning. We have taken the time to recognize the joy of a new day, of a fresh start. We have stirred up our cup of determination and cheerfulness, with which we will face the so called drudgeries and hardships that might come later on. And amidst the rush of life, we might occasionally stop, and we will start laughing with joy because the sky is blue! And at thanksgiving, we might thank God for the reds and oranges and golds of the leaves – for his perserving and governing all his creatures and all his actions.
Here are five things that I am convinced people need to do on a regular basis:
All of those things can contain many sub-categories, but in their essence, they are important. Thinking deeply through things helps us to understand and appreciate. Dancing helps cleanse you of any pessimistic parasites lurking in your soul. Singing does much the same thing – it is an outburst of joy, or of sorrow. Dreaming makes the world go round, I am convinced, because dreams determine who we are, what our pursuits are, and how we will live. Praying is the most important of all. Through prayer our faith is strengthened. Through prayer our trust is placed out of earthly things and into Christ. And thus, through prayer, we do not have to be anxious about anything, and we can sing, dance and dream.
Alright, I am done. But I’m sure that’s not the last you’ll be hearing of G.K. Chesterton…