Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Faith and Dinosaurs

It doesn't feel like twenty-seven years ago, but it was. I carried a Care Bear lunchbox and learned how to ride a school bus under Miss Mason's watchful tutelage. My twin and I were in different classes and they kept mixing us up. We'd just shrug it off. Inside my lunch box, there was always a quarter to buy an individual of milk; I'm old enough to remember when school milks came in boxes instead of plastic, and the milk tastes slightly like paper. And I'm old enough that it only cost twenty-five cents. Or maybe a dime, I can't remember.

My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Loveit and her halo of white poofy hair convinced me she was an angel. She had a piano, a dress-up box, and an art corner rife with glitter and pipe cleaners. She taught me a lot - things I still remember. Back then, your teacher was also the yard duty so one day, she taught us how to suck on honeysuckle buds. She taught me how to color in the lines, wait in lines, and how to open the little boxes of milk in the cafeteria after waiting in line. The only thing she failed to teach me was how to skip (I almost flunked over that one).

She is also the reason that I know about dinosaurs. We cut into old shoe boxes and made dinosaur models. I learned fancy words like carniverous, jurassic, and paleontology. To this day, I know enough to be the substitute host for Dinosaur Train, should they ever come calling. All thanks to Mrs. Loveit.

Remember how Kindergarten was partly done at school, and partly done at home? I spent endless hours recounting stories and explaining my higher intelligence to my parents - parents who did not know the difference between a stegosaurus and an ankylosaurus.

I can't remember where we were driving, but it was on a freeway. (I know this because country roads like those we live on now don't have bumps, not the kind that always made me drowsy as a kid in Southern California.) From the backseat of our Cutlass Supreme, I asked my parents if the dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark. Much to my delight, this caused quite an Oldsmobile discussion. Karen the Kindergartner had stumped her parents!

Now, years later, I'm still sketchy on the answer to that question. There were times in my walk of faith that it really mattered, this sketchiness. But now, I find myself quite unbothered by the whole business of Creation versus Evolution. Perhaps that's disturbing, or refreshing to you. I suppose that the older I get, the less I dapple in apologetics, and deep, analytical defenses of my faith.

As far as I can tell, my faith doesn't seem to be hurting because of this shift in perspective from head to heart. In fact, if I might be so bold as to admit it, I'm pretty sure I resembled a small toddler, whining and arguing her point, stomping her foot when someone didn't agree completely with Creation, the Biblical Creation, the way I knew it had happened. Now, I rate the debate somewhere just above the "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" debate; just not one I have the energy, brain cells, or need to debate.

Not that the Creator God is not worthy of defending; I'm just not sure it's the debate He's calling me to organize. His Creation is adequate enough to tell me He did it Himself. There's just this part of me that says, the best proofs that God exists are only valuable when they move hearts towards Him. Some would criticize me for being too "experiential" in my faith, but that's what Creation, and life, are all about - experiencing it!

Tonight's sunset was the kind that proved the existence of God. It poured pink stain all over the sky and messed up everyone's interior latex paint. My brown walls became purple and my blue walls became green. More than my recognition that God exists, I was struck by His beauty and goodness. The cognitive debates suddenly become almost redundant as I watch colors change across my bedroom walls.

As Charles Martin's Chasing Fireflies character Uncle Willee explained while holding a mason jar of fireflies, "'I don't think an animal can just all-of-a-sudden decide it wants to make light grow out its butt. What kind of nonsense is that? Animals don't make light.' He pointed to the stars. 'God does that. I don't know why or how, but I'm pretty sure it's not chance. It's not some haphazard thing he does in his spare time.'"

There are more important things - all unseen (Hebrews 11:1) - that prove to me the existence of God, and a loving One at that. I'll tell you my most recent top two, in a simple-minded nutshell.

  • Perhaps the most important proof in my own faith walk has been the evidence of God's work in my life. How else can I explain the supernatural flow of love for an enemy? The strong sense that my needs are met in Him, my life is one of peace when it shouldn't be? Of course, these are only evident when I allow Him to lead and strengthen me. On the flip side of the coin, those moments when I'm not surrendered to Him, the converse proves His existence too - hating my enemies, envying my friends, wrestling against peace that only He can give. For me, even this is yet another proof that He exists!
  • When I choose not to walk in His strength, I find myself wandering from source to source, looking for satisfaction. The fact that I never find it in any other source tells me that I was not made to be satisfied by this world. This thirst I have for more is really a thirst for Him. In its rawest form, the quenching of my thirst in Him alone leaves me with a very rational decision - drink more or continue the search. I have chosen to drink, and find myself deeply satisfied. In my own life, Jesus kept his promise: Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)
This faith of mine is alive and real tonight. It's not perfect by any means. But it's pretty firm and rooted and observable. Like those fireflies I watched in Tennessee for the first time. Like those stegosaurus bones I've read all about. I can't help but believe in God. Though I don't understand Him, and though I might not like some of the stuff He allows, I can't NOT walk this path of faith.

As Uncle Willee goes on to say, "If God can make a firefly's butt light up like a star, then anything is possible. Anything."

Thank you for letting me believe in this safe place. And I hope you feel free to do the same.

What elements of your faith bring you comfort? Strength? What elements of your faith bring you concern and doubts? How has your faith evolved (excuse the pun!) over the years? Is it stronger or weaker?

I boast in His strength, which has even taken my faith and matured it. Can it be that He does even this for me?!

I'm resting here tonight.


P.S. I will be out the rest of the week. Thank you for letting me write, and for wandering these faith musings alongside me. Any walk is always better with companions like you.


Kris said...

LOVE that book. Isn't it awesome! Possibly my favorite novel for 2010.

Karen said...

Thank you for the amazing recommendation! It's one of those few books that I didn't KEEP reading, I kept putting it down just because I wanted to read it slowly. That's rare for me! :)

Hope you are having a good day, sis!

Anonymous said...

This was a great post. And now I have another book to add to my reading list...

Karen said...

Oh, do, Jessica! It's great. :) And thanks for reading here. Hope you are having a delightful weekend.

Ann Kroeker said...

I love the way you used story to draw me in, raise my curiosity, engage me...and get me thinking about the topic. You wove in numerous specific, nostalgic, memorable details. I was with you, totally, and then you quoted the marvelous line from that Uncle Willee character. My favorite: "If God can make a firefly's butt light up like a star, then anything is possible. Anything."

So glad to get to know you through

Ann Kroeker
Content Editor