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ReVision

On Not Overlooking the Obvious

We tend to be more sensitive to our blessings during the Christmas season.

In a comment on John 6.14 Augustine wrote, "The divine substance is not visible to the eye, and the miracles of the divine government of the world and ordering of the whole creation are overlooked because of their constancy."

In his book, A Secular Age, Charles Taylor explains that one of the primary characteristics of the time in which we live is the "disenchantment" of the world. Everything about our existence has been or is being reduced to physical laws and processes, mathematical formulas, or scientific equations and principles. Consequently, there is no need or place in the secular worldview for spiritual realities.

Of course, the secular worldview is not yet able to explain everything from such a perspective; but its advocates are working on it. Meanwhile, because God is not "visible to the eye" - He can't be reduced to material substances or processes - He is assumed not to exist. In His place the "laws of the cosmos" are invoked to explain everything from how we think, to why we feel depressed during winter months, to how thoughts emerge from our subconscious to appear as words in speech or on a computer screen, and everything else besides.

Contemporary secularists are on a quest to reduce everything to data, and what they can't reduce to data they simply deny. Like God.

But the Christian knows better. Or at least, should know better. We profess to believe in the Word of God Who upholds the cosmos and everything in it. At the same time, we rarely marvel at or give thanks for the ordinary, everyday tokens of the "divine government and ordering" of our lives.

Every moment of our lives, and everything that fills every moment of our lives, in every place throughout the vast cosmos, exists and functions as it does for one reason only: God wills it. The "laws" of science are in fact no such thing. They are only descriptions of the ways a loving, orderly, and all-powerful God exerts His steadfast love upon the world He has made, causing it to continue from one moment to the next.

We may use the language of "laws" to describe various kinds of material interactions, but these are only descriptions, not explanations - not in any final sense, that is. For in the last analysis, as Eriugena observed a millennium ago, what keeps the world working and us existing through the succession of moments which constitute our lives, is the Word of God. He "speaks" continually to the world He created, loves, and sustains, and for the redemption of which He came, as we remember at this cherished time of year.

We tend to be more sensitive to our blessings during the Christmas season - loved ones, good health, warm homes, and so forth. Something about the mood of the country strums the sentimental strings of our souls and we feel more grateful, peaceful, and content.

But let us not overlook - now or at any time of the year - the mystery, constancy, wisdom, and grace of the providential care of God for His creation. In every circling electron, dividing cell, pulsing blood vessel, tumbling snowflake, twinkling star, and every process and creature throughout the entire vast cosmos, divine providence is personally at work, revealing His glory and summoning us to wonder and worship.

This Christmas season take time to observe the handiwork of God in all the details of life. Wonder at the ordinary. Praise God for the everyday. Rejoice in the taken-for-granted. Jesus is God's greatest gift to us, and He is the Gift Who keeps on giving. As you sing His praises in the carols of the season, praise Him as well for His providential care for every detail of your life.

For the Baby in the manger is the Lord of life and Governor of all things.

Every day. Every moment of every day. In every nook and cranny of every person and thing in the cosmos.

Praise Him!

Related texts: Psalm 19.1-4; Psalm 104; Psalm 111; Psalm 145: Hebrews 1:3

A conversation starter: "Do you ever take the time to wonder about the gifts God sends to us every day of our lives?"

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

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.
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