And do not wonder that the beasts and birds thus obeyed the command of the man of God. For we have learned from Chamnoald, royal chaplain at Laon, who was his attendant and disciple, that he has often seen Columban wandering about in the wilderness fasting and praying, and call the wild beasts and birds. These came immediately at his command and he stroked them with his hands.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban
Understand the creation, if you wish to know the Creator; if you will not know the former either, be silent concerning the Creator, but believe in the Creator.
- Columbanus, Sermon I
…what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown itto them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributesare clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, evenHis eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…
- Romans 1.19, 20
The revelation of God – of His Being, attributes, and works – comes to us via two portals: Scripture and creation. Just as we have two eyes for observing the world, so that we may properly perceive the depth, dimension, distance, and delightfulness of the things we see, so we have two “eyes” through which to contemplate our God. Columbanus insisted on the importance of discerning the revelation of God in creation. He was himself a great friend of creation, as Jonas reports.
We may believe in God from the revelation in Scripture alone. In fact, as Paul indicates, apart from Scripture, we will not believe in God. Scripture is powerful to bring us to the knowledge of God. Without Scripture, it will not be possible to discern the revelation of God in creation. All our contemplations and studies of creation apart from Scripture lead to conclusions other than those God intends. God intends to make Himself known through the things of creation. Those thinkers and writers who consider creation apart from God will not end up where God intends; instead, they will end up vaunting the mysteries and glories of physics or evolution or science, which is to say, of themselves and their ridiculous schemes (Eccl. 7.29).
We come to believe in God through His revelation in Scripture, in particular, in the Gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ. These open up the rest of Scripture to us so that we can know God through the lens of Jesus according to God’s Word.
Columbanus cautioned against saying too much about God if you choose to remain ignorant of His revelation in creation. What a strange admonition! But think about it: How many different ways in Scripture does God refer to the creation to make something known about Himself? By appealing to clouds, stars, the sun and moon, rain, frost, wind, snow, thunder and lightning, flowers, trees, mountains, creatures of all kinds, and so much more, God speaks to us about Himself. He assumes that we will understand something about all these things, so that we can perceive the witness to Him which they offer. Further, as we experience such things during the course of our daily life, we are reminded that God made them, sustains them, is revealing His glory through them, and by them furnishes His grace and bounty for our care and nurture. Thus, the more we know about creation, the better we will know the Lord and be able to give Him thanks and bear witness to His greatness, goodness, faithfulness, and steadfast love.
As God speaks to the world through creation, so should we. We are docents of the glory of God in the vast museum of creation. Our calling to God’s Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12) entails us being able to perceive the revelation of God which He has set in creation, so as to declare Him and His many excellencies to the world (Prov. 25.2).
Would you describe yourself as a friend of creation? How familiar are you with those aspects of creation that you encounter every day? The trees, birds, seasons, skies, landscape, plants, and all the rest? Is this just so much stuff for you? Or do you find in all these things the beckoning voice and shimmering presence of the glory of God? And can you talk about what you see there, not merely in terms of the creatures in your environment, but of how they reveal the glory of God and serve the purposes of His redemptive plan (Ps. 119.89-91)?
We have a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother, and Who reaches out to us daily from His Word and from His world.
Psalm 111.1-3 (Manoah: When All Your Mercies, O My God)
Praise the Lord! O let my heart give thanks here amid His chosen race!
Your works are great, O Lord, and sought by all who know their grace.
For Your work is full of splendor, Lord, and of majesty most pure;
Your righteousness, O glorious God, forever will endure!
Lord, show Yourself to me today, and help me to pay attention to all facets of Your revelation, so that…
Discerning God in Creation
Our book, Consider the Lilies, is a step-by-step guide to learning to see the revelation of God in creation, and knowing how to use that for your growth and witness. Order your copy by clicking here.
You can support our work
Share today’s Crosfigellwith a friend, and encourage your friend to subscribe by going to our website, www.ailbe.org. Pray for our work at The Fellowship of Ailbe, and, as the Lord leads, share in our work by your giving. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Friend of Creation
- T.M. Moore
- December 20, 2018
Creation can tell us much about God.
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.