Finding a Rolex on the Beach
Back at the very beginning of the recent war in Iraq, with the first reports of American deaths beginning to hit us all in the heart, in our national soul, there was a man who looked into CNN’s TV cameras, and his world was destroyed. His name was Michael Waters-Bey, and his 29-year-old son, Kendall, had just been killed in the conflict. Kendall was married; he had a 10-year-old boy himself. And now this grieving grandpa looked into the camera and, having to take out his hostility and despair on someone, he said to America’s commander-in-chief: “This was not your son or daughter, Mr. President. This is the only son I had.” And then he added one more sad, sad line. He said: “That chair he sat in at Thanksgiving will be empty forever.”
And at a time like that, people who say they have a Christian faith, and preachers who talk about faith have to really dig deep and ask ourselves this: “Does Christianity have an answer for this heartbroken grandfather? We say we serve a wonderful God, but is He also a mighty God? A mighty enough God—and a creative enough God—to fill that empty chair someday soon and make Thanksgiving Day a time of joy again?”
You know, I think about that grandpa, and that 10-year-old son, Kenneth, who doesn’t have a dad anymore. And I want to tell you something: the very first verse in the Word of God is some incredibly good news for the Waters-Bey family. I know you can say it with me without even looking it up: Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now again, you probably already knew that verse by heart, but Genesis 1:1 happened a long time ago; you’re wondering how it helped that little fourth-grader, Kenneth, who had to face life without having a dad anymore to assist him with his homework or help him learn to catch a football. This morning I want to invite you to think together with me about whether or not we can believe what the Bible says about the power of God, not only to create things, but to create them anew.
Some of you are familiar with the name Chuck Colson. He was a powerful, aggressive, dog-eat-dog Richard Nixon henchman, who once said he’d run over his own grandmother if he had to, just to get Nixon reelected. He got all tied up in Watergate, all the power trips and shenanigans and obstructing justice and misleading the American people. Then, right in the thick of it, he became a Christian. He served his time in prison, came out, started a Christian prison ministry of his own, and has co-written some amazing religious books. In one of his latest ones, How Now Shall We Live?, he tells a simple story about a dad and a daughter going to Disney World.
Well, this dad, Dave Mulholland, was there with a purpose in mind, and it wasn’t to ride on Dumbo the flying elephant. He was concerned about his 15-year-old daughter, Katy. She was in high school, just starting to stretch her own wings, and it just seemed like she was starting to fly off in all the wrong directions. Dave and his wife had found marijuana in her purse one day. That was a crisis. She and her friends were getting into things they shouldn’t. But the most serious thing of all was that she was just drifting away from God. She didn’t think Christianity was relevant anymore; her friends shrugged off religion as kind of useless and stupid; her science classes in school made it plain that the Bible was just a potpourri of fables and “urban legends.” The way Colson puts it in his book: “[These Christian parents] felt they were losing her to a secular world smugly satisfied with itself and deeply hostile to their own.” So Dave was kind of hoping that in between all the exhibits and rides, they might have a chance to do some serious father-daughter talking about the big things.
But then—disaster! They went into an incredible exhibit called “The Living Seas.” And there, with all the sights and digital Dolby surround sound, the way only Disney geniuses can do them, the narrator came on with his resonant voice of authority: “Imagine a place somewhere in the endless reaches of the universe, on the other side of the galaxy of a hundred-thousand-million suns. In this tiny corner of the universe, deep within the cluster of slowly forming planets, is a small sphere of just the right size, a sphere just the right distance from its mother star.” And then Bill-Nye-the-Science-Guy hit this dad and his daughter with the punch line: “A spot of light expanded into a thunderous crashing flood as stars exploded and galaxies formed.” In other words, a big bang. A universe just jumping into existence all by itself. No God, no creator, no divine heart of love making a world in six days. Just one-in-a-trillion evolutionary luck. And now Dave Mulholland was sure he was really sunk.
But he took his daughter outside, and bought her an ice cream cone, sat down on a park bench, and tried to cut through what they’d just heard and try to figure out: Is there a God in heaven who can do all the things the Bible says He can do . . . or did we just slowly find our way to this 21st century all by ourselves after millions of years of upward evolutionary migration?
And what this dad on that Disney World bench tried to gently explain to his girl was an immutable law of the universe: everything that is designed has a designer. That’s it. If you’re driving along Interstate 90 with your family on vacation in South Dakota, and you suddenly look up and see the heads of four U.S. presidents carved out in the granite, no one with a brain says to their family: “Oh, look, kids, at what the wind and the rain and the snow and the eons of time and the erosion of drip-drip-drip caused to show up. There’s Washington and Lincoln and Jefferson and Roosevelt all by blind luck.” No way do you say that. You know that an architect named John G. Borglum came by with a pretty big rock hammer and a designer’s vision.
A good 200 years ago, English theologian William Paley posed it this way: If you’re walking along a beach and suddenly you bend over and pick up a beautiful watch, ticking away and keeping good time, you don’t say to yourself: “Amazing what the waves and the pounding surf will fling together if you just let enough centuries go by! A really nice watch that says Rolex on it. Thank you very much, currents and tides. I think I’ll keep this.” No, if you’re smart you’ll take out your Bible, right there on the beach, and read from Isaiah 40:26: Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.
And what an increasing number of scientists are now conceding is a valid field of study, “ID,” or “Intelligent Design,” is even more true as this dad at Disney World talks to Katy about the fact that he is her dad. I mean, having a child—you talk about design! When one egg and one sperm get together—just two tiny cells—and I assume this father was there when that happened. And then for nine months, those cells multiply and divide, turning into all the right clusters of more cells, organs, blood, lungs, heart, brain, skin, entire systems. And then after those nine months, and I’m sure Dave Mulholland is there for that too, right there in the delivery room, he and his wife are Lamaze-breathing like crazy, hyperventilating, pushing, counting down to the big moment, and then all at once, you see this new little life emerge. And it has a face! A little scrunched-up face, with two eyes, and a nose, two ears, and a very noisy little mouth and vocal cords. And within 15 minutes Daddy’s giving her a bath and even having to already change a diaper, so those functions are working too. And he says to himself: “This is a designed miracle. This child is fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are the works of God!” Psalm 139:14. In fact, Dave said to his daughter as they sat there eating their Disney World ice cream bars: “Everything I know about the universe, including my incredibly beautiful daughter, indicates to me that somebody designed it. Created it.”
This “ID” concept, “Intelligent Design,” by the way, is something many branches of science are conceding now and even using. How about in forensic science? Colson and Piercey write: “When police find a body, their first question is, Was this death the result of natural causes or foul play (an intentional act by an intelligent being)? Pathologists perform a battery of fairly straightforward tests to get an answer.” I don’t drive by each of your houses real slow and peek in your windows to see what you watch on television night by night, but those of you who watch Law & Order: CI—which I guess is for “criminal intent”—see this Detective Goren, who looks in the carpeting for clues, and who sees a little thread of this, a bit of fluff over there . . . and he’s looking for exactly what the title says: intent. Some person behind the evidence.
So do we buy this pillar of the faith: that God is our Creator? Do we accept it? Christian researcher George Barna reminds us of this truth: “Without a biblical worldview, all the great teaching goes in one ear and out the other. There are no intellectual pegs . . . in the mind of the individual to hang these truths on. So they just pass through. They don’t stick. They don’t make a difference.” And then Colson goes on to suggest that any worldview is only as good as its answer to these three questions:
Question One: Where did we come from, and who are we? The Bible answers that question with the word Creation. Genesis 1:1. And who are we? The sons and daughters of God.
Question Two: What has gone wrong with the world? The Bible’s answer to that: the fall. A serpent in the garden of Eden. Satan. And sin. And death.
Question Three: What can we do to fix it? And there our answer is: Nothing! We can’t do anything. But Christianity’s answer is Calvary. Jesus loving us and dying for us and coming soon to rescue us.
The reality is this: we either take the Bible’s worldview, or we have to settle for existentialism, which basically says—in Colson’s words—that “Life is absurd, meaningless, and that the individual self must create his own meaning by his own choices.” Or postmodernism, which thinks that there are no eternal truths, no overarching realities except what you and your friends decide is right for you on this Saturday morning. Just a few years ago the NABT—that’s the National Association of Biology Teachers—announced that “all life is the outcome of ‘an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process.’” Does that give you confidence?
Well, I’d like to spend a few minutes with you this Sabbath morning telling you why I think we can believe God’s Word with all confidence, and not just because I found a watch out on the beach the other day. But first of all, I find it very interesting that even the world’s best scientists are conceding something called the Anthropic Principle. Speaking of design and watches on the beach and new babies in their bassinets, did you know that all the evidence in the world points to the reality that this universe was designed to support and nourish human life? We get a few stats from Christian pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church in Illinois. He and Mark Mittelberg wrote a book entitled Becoming a Contagious Christian, filled with excellent material, and in one chapter he gets some help from the men and women in the white lab coats, who tell us these fascinating things:
For instance: if you were to raise or lower the universe’s rate of expansion by just one part per million, there would be no life. In fact, I’ve read that the force of gravity has to not only be right, but right to within one part in ten to the sixtieth power. If you passed high school algebra you can explain that to the rest of us, but that’s a one followed by a lot of zeroes—probably bigger than the offering we took up this morning.
If the average distance between stars were any greater, there’d be no planets. Any smaller, and there could be no planetary orbits necessary for life. If you were to jigger just slightly—and please don’t go home and do this—the carbon-to-oxygen ratios on planet earth just even slightly, there’d be no one here to breathe . . . and we couldn't come back and worship together next Sabbath. If you were to tilt earth’s axis just slightly one direction, we’d freeze to death. Go the other way even one degree, and we’d instantly burn up. I’ve been on mission trips to some of our world’s warmer climes, and I honestly thought someone had tipped the earth toward the sun a few degrees, or at least our hotel room, the same day the air conditioning in our little van broke down. But listen, this planet was designed by a loving God who wanted you and me to be here this morning.
Did you know that we are the absolutely perfect distance from the sun? 93 million miles? Any closer—that wouldn’t be good. Any farther away, and it wouldn’t just be a cold winter, it’d be all winter. As in deep freeze for the human race. And do you know what? Science is just now starting to barely, sort of, kind of, a little bit, figuring out how to manufacture these artificial AbioCor hearts, that maybe work for a few months and don’t do nearly as well as the heart our Master Designer God put in your chest and which is beating this very minute, right now. And DNA? You talk about design . . . and all the scientists and genome researchers know it. In Chuck Colson’s book, he addresses this same Anthropic Principle, and writes: “All these seemingly arbitrary and unrelated values in physics have one strange thing in common: They are precisely the values needed to get a universe capable of supporting life.”
Hybels and Mittleberg make it even more personal: “Someone must have gone to a lot of effort,” they write, “to make things just right so that you and I could be here to enjoy life. In short, modern science points to the fact that we must really matter to God!” By the way, did you know the origin of the word anthropic? I haven’t been to the seminary for a good many years, so most of these linguistic tidbits, I have to get out of my big fat Greek dictionary, but the word anthropos actually means “human being.” That’s it! This Anthropic Principle reiterates that God cares about human beings and has built this world just for our survival.
So the next time you look at a globe, and you see its perfect tilt, don’t just walk away. Notice that those are the fingerprints of God. When you go for a swim tomorrow morning, and you’re underwater for 30 seconds, and then come up really eager for some oxygen, remember the fingerprints of God. See them. Thank Him for them. In the book of Romans, chapter 1, Paul writes: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” And then Paul wisely adds: “So that men are without excuse.” And what are we without excuse regarding? I think it’s if we just simply drift through life, thinking that we made ourselves and master ourselves and are answerable only to ourselves—and don’t see or acknowledge the fingerprints of God, the design in everything around us.
Here’s an important P.S. for us to prayerfully consider: the Bible earnestly invites us to worship God precisely because He is our Creator! Did you know that? Right in the heart of Revelation, which is God’s last-day message for this generation, that mighty first angel of chapter 14 has this invitation: “Fear [or respect] God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” (v. 7). Back in chapter four of that same book, we find a mind-boggling scene in heaven where all the great, holy beings who have never sinned just worship constantly, and they say this: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.” And why? “For You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being” (v. 11).
You know, I’ll let you in on a tiny secret. In this same book I just mentioned, Colson quotes from a physicist named Heinz Pagels, who authored a report entitled A Cozy Cosmology, which appeared in “The Sciences” magazine a few years ago. And he suggests that if our universe “appears to be tailor-made for life, the most straightforward conclusion is that it was tailor-made, created by a transcendent God.” And then he quietly confesses that, in their hearts, many scientists know it. But they find that conclusion “unattractive,” and twist their own logic into pretzels, coming up with things like their “theory of multiple universes” to get around the problem. In Pagels’ own words: “It is the closest that some atheists can get to God. In other words, atheists are squirming every which way to avoid the obvious.”
The well-known astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle once calculated that the odds of life just showing up, just sparking itself into existence, would be the same as lining up many, many blind people—in fact, here we go again: 10 to the 50th power this time; that’s a lot of people in a row, all blind—and giving them each a scrambled-up Rubik’s Cube . . . and having all gazillion of them solve it at the exact same moment.
So tell me: would you like to put your faith, your eternal trust, in those visually challenged people with the Rubik’s Cubes, or with a billion monkeys on a billion word processors trying to randomly pound out a Webster’s Dictionary? Or would you like to trust in what it says in Hymn #88 in our Adventist church hymnal, where it says: “I sing the mighty power of God, That made the mountains rise, That spread the flowing seas abroad, and build the lofty skies”? You tell me.
Many years before there were telescopes and all of NASA’s gear for scanning the vast reaches of space, someone once did a careful count and decided there were 5,110 stars out there. Isn’t that nice? That’s like the guy who once announced that there wouldn’t really be much of a market for computers—that maybe five would do it for the whole world. Astronomer Fritz Conn gets a bit closer to God’s truth when he writes: “Our home in the universe is a spiral of 200 billion stars, a unit of suns whirling through space like a fiery pinwheel.”
In his book, Believe in Miracles, But Trust in Jesus, Pastor Adrian Rogers tells about a student who came up to him one day. “Pastor Rogers,” he asked, “I’ve got a question. Do you believe there’s life on other worlds?” Now, I don’t know what you think about that . . . although the Bible doesn’t say. In our Adventist communion, we tend to believe that God does have loyal communities living in many places throughout His cosmic empire.
But Pastor Rogers gave him an answer. “No,” he said. “I don’t think there is.” “What?” the kid said. “You think all the life there is in the universe is right here on earth?” “Uh huh.” And the kid shook his head. “No way,” he said. “How can that be?” “What do you mean?” And the student launched into how there are just so many millions and billions and trillions of planets and stars and galaxies and a billion Milky Ways, all spanning light years with 20 zeroes after them. Etc. Etc. You talk about “ID,” intelligent design, and this kid gave Pastor Rogers quite a little Genesis 1 sermon. And then he said: “You mean to tell me you think God went to all that trouble, and then just put life on one tiny little world?” And Pastor Rogers said to him: “What trouble?”
Don’t you just love that answer? “What trouble?” Listen, the Bible tells us that when it comes to creation, God does great things . . . but they’re not hard things. Not for Him. Notice what it says in Isaiah 40:26: Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.
Jeremiah 32:17 tells us that God isn’t over-extending Himself when He creates or earning time-and-a-half putting in a lot of overtime. Listen to this: Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.
And by the way, let’s put up on the tote board that the First Law of Thermodynamics—the conservation of matter—actually works in favor of the power of God. “Matter cannot just pop into existence”—this is from Colson’s book again—“matter cannot just pop into existence or create itself.” But I want to tell you this: matter can pop into existence when God clears His throat and says “Let there be . . . this or that.”
The Reader’s Digest had a nice little story a few years ago where the great scientists with their gene-splicing lasers looked up at the sky and said, “You know what, God? We don’t need You anymore. You say You’re the creator of life; now we’ve caught up. You make people; we can do it too.” And they went ahead and challenged God to a man-making competition, to be televised on ESPN.
And you know—God didn’t get angry. When we have questions or even when we challenge Him, He patiently demonstrates His power and His plan. So He said to the men in their lab coats: “All right. Let’s do it. I’ll make a man out of dirt—again—and you do the same.” So the DNA experts immediately rolled up their sleeves, and got down on their knees and began scooping up some soil for their test tubes and their Petri dishes. And God very gently but firmly said to them: “Just a minute, boys. Not so fast. Rule #1: you get your own dirt.”
Well, that’s a fun story, but maybe you say: “Wait a minute. What about mutation of species over great spans of time?” Isn’t that an argument for evolution? But most mutations are like typos in a report, or bugs in a computer program. They don’t make things slowly better; instead, you have a downward spiral into mistakes and nonsense. In fact, that’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics: that our universe is slowly wearing down, disintegrating, not spiraling upward into higher levels of complexity. Colson writes in his book: “The same is true of errors in the genetic code. Most mutations are harmful, often lethal, to the organism, so that if mutations were to accumulate, the result would more likely be devolution than evolution.”
Luther Burbank, the great genetic researcher, coined an expression or law called the Reversion to the Average. Most organisms, he reports, stay true to type. They don’t stray from the blueprint; variations tend to be very minor. In other words, most monkeys seem to stay monkeys. Sometimes in April, when a new major league baseball season is just beginning, we get excited if our team wins its first six games. Or it might cause a stir when a light-hitting shortstop is batting .400 after the initial week has gone by. Is someone going to break the home record here? Are we heading to the World Series? Unfortunately, a baseball season lasts a long and grueling 162 games—and in all that time, most teams and players slowly return to their normal pattern of doing things. Your team ends up in third place, that shortstop bats .260, and the home run record remains intact, even though some newcomer hit thirteen “dingers” in the month of April. Just like always. Little pops of excitement happen here and there, but when all is said and done, the Reversion to the Average always happens when you get to October. And it’s the same in the scientific world around us.
One scientific arena of real challenge comes with things like carbon dating and the half-life of radioactive material, or layers in the Grand Canyon, where a scientist will say: “There you are. According to this time line, if you extrapolate mathematically, the world is X number of millions of years old.” I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t have all the answers, and that it does take an expression of faith to trust in God’s Word over the theories in the geology labs. But the wonderful Christian writer C. S. Lewis once had a dialogue with a friend, and he said to him: “Okay, look. If you put sixpence into a drawer today, and then sixpence again tomorrow, and then the day after that you look inside . . . what are you going to find? One shilling, right?” And his friend picked up on the point. “Yes,” he said, “unless someone else has gotten in there and tampered with the drawer.” And—boom!—Lewis nailed the lesson home. “It’s the same in science,” he said. “The laws work a certain way unless there’s interference. Or upheaval.” Or . . . let’s say, for instance, a flood that devastates the planet and throws the numbers off. It’s just something to think about, isn’t it?
I want to tell you this morning that I believe this Book. Did you know that even Darwin himself said: “You can either believe in my theories—in Darwinism—or you can believe this Book. But the two ideas are mutually exclusive. You can’t mix them up; you can’t blend them. They do not co-exist.” And folks, I believe this Book. From cover to cover. If you’re on a walk, and you see a turtle up on a fence post, you know one thing: somebody came along. Right? That turtle didn’t get up there by itself.
And I see the evidence in this sin-scarred but still beautiful world we live in, and I say: somebody came through here. A powerful God did all of this. Even the animals in our backyards and buzzing around our hummingbird feeders are a vibrant testimony to the creative power of somebody who came through here and made all these species: birds that can migrate and return to San Juan Capistrano the same day every year; whales and salmon that traverse the great depths, honeybees that build honeycombs that are a marvel of design. You know, the next time actor Eddie Murphy plays that Dr. Dolittle character who can talk to the animals, I wish he’d ask some of them how they do to do these amazing, God-inspired things. But we already know the answer, don’t we, Dr. Dolittle? Because the testimony’s right in front of us in the book of Job, chapter 12: But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the Lord has done this? (v. 7-9).
But now let’s take it a step further. If you concede the Bible version of events and say, “All right, God did make the universe,” then we still have to know: what does it mean to us? Is a creative God also a caring God? God made a world where our brave young men and women in the armed forces could get blown up and killed by other men and women. Does God care about that? I want you to remember that God creates because He does care. Clear back in the 26th verse of the Bible, God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy—this amazing, loving, unified trinity of three—said to each other: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. God made us for fellowship; He made us because He loves us and is interested in us. In fact, the first chapter of John makes it plain that Jesus, our Friend and Savior, is actually the one who did the creating. Did you know that? All things were made through Him, it says in verse 10, speaking specifically of God the Son: Jesus.
Back in the tumult of the Old Testament, where there weren’t computer-guided JDAM smart bombs and Apache helicopters, but still a lot of warfare and bloodshed and empty seats at the Thanksgiving dinner table, King David wrote in Psalm 100:3: Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Again, that’s why we actually owe Him our worship . . . whether we choose to be wise enough to do it or not.
So if you do believe that God loves us, as it says in John 3:16—For God so loved the world—and again in I John 4:8—God is love—and Jeremiah 31:3—Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love—then I think you need to accept that His love and His creative power and His creative interest in you are all absolutes.
You see, the various theories of evolution all paint a picture of sputtering, fluttering, unattended momentum, where processes just clunk along, and we hope the molecules don’t burn out before we do. The Darwinian worldview is that you and I are totally on our own here, that this universe “came from nothing, by nothing, for nothing,” as one philosopher put it. The most generous allowance an evolutionist will make is where a disinterested God did some big-bang creating of His own millions of years ago and then walked off. From that day on, all of you blobs of protoplasm sitting here this morning have been on your own. But the Bible paints the exact opposite picture; it presents a diametrically opposed worldview . . . where God is actively engaged, where His love for us is present, and eternal, and ongoing, and undeniable. Psalm 100:5 says: The Lord is good and His love endures forever. And I know many of you have sung that great chorus: “O love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure, the saints’ and angels’ song.”
Tell me. Is your love and my love pure and measureless and ever-enduring? It isn’t, is it? We walk off the job all the time. William Bennett, who wrote The Book of Virtues, tells how he went once to a wedding where the couple very naïvely promised in their vows to love each other “as long as our warm feelings of unity shall last.” Something like that. And Bennett kind of joked: “I gave them paper plates as a wedding gift.” Because our warm feelings and our interest in others sometimes fade away, don’t they? But the God of Genesis 1 is a present Friend and Helper. The same God who spoke a word and caused galaxies to spring into existence out of nothing is willing to speak a word in your defense right now, this morning.
One thing that is a powerful, undergirding truth for this church is how eternal and real God’s love is for you at this very moment in time. And that if you enter into a relationship with Jesus—as your Creator and your Redeemer—then you can feel safe and secure and protected in that relationship. Friend, if you get saved this morning, if you accept Jesus as the Lord who made you and loves you, then you can know that you have it. You can know that salvation is yours. John 5:24, one of my favorite verses, has Jesus saying to His friends: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; He has crossed over from death to life.”
And the Bible doctrine of creation also makes it clear, doubly clear, that a God with that much love and power—those two things, love and power—just will not let you go. You can know that you are His; you can know that your salvation is safe with Him. Notice this from Romans 8:38: “I am convinced,” Paul writes, “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And what does this have to do with our grieving father whose son was lost there in the dust and the blood of Iraq? Simply this: the creative power of God is enough to bring young Kendall Waters-Bey back to life. That chair at the great banquet table doesn’t have to be empty for all eternity, because the same Creator who brought those cells together the first time can just as easily do it again.
There was a wrenching story in the Los Angeles Times, written by Nora Zamichow, about how these young, young men and women who have been fighting overseas on our behalf these past years, all had to make wills before they headed over to the war theater. And there’s something obscene, really, about a 19-year-old soldier making out a will, writing down who should get his boombox and his dirt bike and his Play Station. These are just kids; they’re not giving away Wall Street portfolios and luxury yachts and Lenox china. Some of the soldiers joked that Uncle Sam paid them so little, there was hardly anything to give away . . . but those jokes were hiding the pounding pulses of those young Marines and the tears of their brides. And already, some of those wills have had to be put into effect. But God promises to make it right one of these days, doesn’t He? Isaiah 26:19 says: But your dead will live. Their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout.
Anna Quindlen, who writes a wonderful column in Newsweek, describes a bad Monday she had with her daughter a while back. First of all, they went to a funeral. That was bad. But then a cell phone call had them rushing to the hospital where another friend was in the valley of the shadow of death. Right after that, it was a trifecta of tears, because their cat was poisoned and so they were speeding to the vet’s to deal with that.
And finally it was bedtime. What a day! And Anna, good mom that she is, tucked her girl into bed and said quietly, “Well, honey, this was tough, but look at it this way: we’ll never go through a day like this one again.”
That was September TEN, 2001. Monday, September 10. And this family lives in New York. The very next morning, we all know how death invaded our world like never before. In Ms. Quindlen’s words: “The day America’s mind reeled, its spine stiffened, and its heart broke.”
Think about being a relative of one of those victims in the twin towers. Or in the Pentagon. Or on one of those four planes. And when the hijackers’ planes sliced into the World Trade Center, someone you loved was just suddenly . . . GONE. In one fiery moment . . . GONE. There wasn’t anything left: no traces, no DNA, no cells and no record. We all read how those firefighters—truly “New York’s finest”—wrote their names and Social Security numbers on their own forearms, just in case someone later had to hunt through rubble for their remains. But here your loved one is simply GONE. Nothing is left for God to work with. How can He clone or recreate them?
Well, the Bible tells us, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Does God need a lab? Does He need DNA? Did He make Adam out of DNA? Or can He just speak the word . . . and have the person you love and miss so much instantly come back to life? Maybe they were lost at sea; maybe they’ve been resting in a casket for many years now. That is not a problem for God. Because He is a Creator God who loves to create—and REcreate—life for those who love and worship Him.
Say this great Isaiah promise of creative power with me as we close: Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.” And for all of you who have a tombstone in your life right now, what beautiful words these are: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in My people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more" (65:17-19).
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2008. Click here for usage guidelines.
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