When a child asks, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why does fire burn?” what do we usually do? Well, if we’re not in a hurry and tempted to brush aside their childish inquiries, chances are, we delve into some explanation of those phenomena rooted in the mechanics of the processes. The child asks “why” but we answer “how” without even realizing it.
One of PJ’s favourite TV shows is “How It’s Made.” I think it’s a show that fascinates a lot of people. We all like to get a behind-the-scenes peek at where the items we use everyday come from. But imagine instead a TV show called “Why It’s Made” and you can immediately tell the difference between the two questions. There would likely be no factory tours in this imaginary show. It would be a lot more philosophical, examining the demand for those items to be manufactured in the first place.
Why was I born? Why am I here? Those are big questions that have no easy answer. I can much more easily answer “how” I was born. I do have a biology degree after all. But maybe the benefit to us is found not so much in answering the “why” questions as it is in asking them in the first place!
For hundreds of years we have been trying to rip off the blinders inherited from our medieval ancestors, and we scoff at their superstitious ways. We want to see the world just as it is, stripped down to brass tacks, leaving nothing but stark-naked, cold reality. But is that reality? I think we buy the lie that explaining all the “hows” of our world will make us feel more in control. Understanding all these observable universal processes elevates us and makes us significant. But does it? In reality, when we strip our world and our lives of mystery and wonder, we end up feeling very small and insignificant. It belittles us and robs our lives of meaning.
We live in a world where, sadly to say, it is easier to get help in killing yourself than it is to get help! We live in a world that celebrates evil and pushes every boundary of perversity in its endless pursuit of pleasure. Yes, I know these are complicated issues. But for Pete’s sake we can’t even agree on something so fundamental, so “big picture” as life is good and death is not. Now don’t misunderstand me; we need to accept the inevitability of death and our own mortality. That’s healthy. I’m just saying that life is worth fighting for and death is worth postponing when possible.
No matter how much we mock the medievals for mixing their spirituality with their astronomy, millions of people today still read their horoscope. Why? Because we are starving for the transcendent. When the stars tell us that the moment we entered the universe matters, maybe we will feel like we matter too. But we don’t need the stars to tell us that. The God who created the stars has been communicating that to anyone “with ears to hear” since the dawn of time.
Oh, God, help us! Give us the wisdom to make margin in our lives for mystery. Help us to hear Your voice singing over us. We have shrivelled our spirits by casting aside Your gift of imagination and scorning Your lens of love — the only life-giving lens through which to see and study our world. Remove the pet blinders of our own generation. Give us hope. Give us life worth living. It’s almost Christmas. Have I almost forgotten? You gave us Yourself. You gave us divinity in the flesh. You gave us more than enlightenment; You gave us the Light of the world. Open our ears to hear these words of Jesus today about how much we matter to You!
“Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”Luke 12:6-7 (CSB)
“Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you — you of little faith?”Matthew 6:26-30 (CSB)
Jesus knew the problem. He pinpointed it perfectly in His audience that day on the mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. They lacked faith — that sense of reality in what is hoped for, that assurance of what is unseen. If we’re honest, probably most of us would have to admit that we have little of it by times too. But the good news is that faith is a gift. It’s the gift of God to a humble heart that doesn’t settle for answering “how” questions but is brave enough to wade into “why” with God. The happiest people I know are also the most humble. Do you need more joy this Christmas? Are you hungry for hope? Longing for love? And who in their right mind couldn’t use more peace in the chaos of our crazy world? Maybe it’s time to ask God for the gift of faith and see what happens!