Monday, August 20, 2012

Now Where Did That Come From?

Our God isn’t big enough. When I pulled into a parking space at church, I noticed a single white flower growing next to the parking curb. The rest of the grass was trimmed to perfection, but there was that one lily that sprang up in the night and had bloomed. It was a beautiful flower, though it grew where no gardener would’ve planted it.

Later, I saw about ten of these wild lilies growing in the median. They were bunched in a cluster right next to the road. They were not centered in the way a landscape designer would have placed them. They were just there.

Ask a child who attends Sunday school how they got there and he’ll likely respond, “God planted them.” Now we, being older and wiser, know that a seed must have fallen on that ground. The seed grew and the flower bloomed. When the seed fell, they fell in a cluster around where the first seed had fallen, giving us those ten lilies growing in the median. But we smile and assure the child that “yes, God planted them.”

In our wisdom, it is easy to forget the lessons we learned as a child. Now, when we think of God planting something, we don’t just accept it as true. We imagine God squatting down by the road and pushing those seeds into the ground. “Of course he didn’t do that,” we think. And what an odd place to plant flowers. God knows as well as landscape designers that they would look better if they were centered in the median. Or why place them there at all? Why not plant them next to a church building? So, after giving it some thought, we conclude that God didn’t actually plant the flowers. Seed fell and flowers grew.

Who are we to say where God should plant flowers? And what makes us think that God is like us? We don’t like chaos. Growing up, my father taught me to till the garden in straight rows. We want our corn in a straight row. We want our beans in a straight row. The tomato plants should be placed an equal distance apart. It’s better that way. So when we see a random placement of flowers, it isn’t were we would have put it.

But to say that God must plant his flowers in a straight row is to make our God too small. Since we know that God planted those flowers (even a child knows that), what does that tell us about God? Expand your view for a moment and don’t consider just that cluster flowers, but consider the whole landscape. Grass, growing in a field. Trees, covered with leaves. Mountains, formed from odd shaped rocks. Look at a single blade of grass, a single leaf, or a single rock and you might question why it is where it is. But look at the whole picture and it is beautiful. Even the human body is made up of billions of cells that seem to grow in random places, but out of the chaos comes something amazing.

In our limited ability, we need order so we can understand and keep track of what we’re doing. God, in his infinite ability, can take chaos and turn it into something beautiful. God knows where every flower is placed. He knows where every seed will fall. He is able to direct them at will, or just let them fall. It may seem random to us. We might have thoughts of how it can be done better. But we can’t argue with the results. What might appear to us a God throwing a bunch of seed to the wind and letting them fall turns into a beautiful landscape that is far better than anything we’ve ever designed.

Our God is so big that there is order in his chaos.