Nature and Man are Made for God

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Christmas Eve, 1968. Apollo 8 astronauts – Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – the first humans to orbit another world, offered their message to the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice. “And the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate” recalls Borman.

As their command module floated above the lunar surface, the astronauts beamed back images of the moon and Earth and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone “on the good Earth.”

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The earth is a masterpiece of Divine workmanship . . . and its purpose the abode of man, the scene of his activity, and the means of his development (Noah Plan History, p 179, quoted from Arnold Guyot, Geographer).

Nature and man are made for God, the origin and end of all things. It is as the abode of man, and the theatre for the action of human societies.

As Shakespeare states it in “As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts . . .”

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Parable of the Master Carver

and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters (Gen. 1:2b).

 

Spirit (def): Breath; as in the Lord who has power to manifest life in man by giving breath. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Gen. 2:7).

A recent visit to the Albany Carousel provides insight into the Spirit of God’s life-giving breath for man. We are greeted by a magnificent, ornate carousel, home to a variety of playful animals, carnival music and radiant faces. Joyful people–young and old and every age in between riding their perfectly formed imaginary animal of choice. Each animal is brilliant in color, strong as an ox, able to withstand tremendous abuse and at the same time provides great pleasure for all who ride on it.

While at the museum, we take advantage of the opportunity to visit the wood carving studio. Under the skillful guidance of a master wood carver, these magnificent creatures are transformed from a piece of wood into an object of delight. I think it significant that we must descend into the depths of the building, below all the joviality, to see where they are shaped and formed. We are personally escorted into the heart of the museum by one whose sole purpose is to be our personal teacher and guide for as long as we choose to stay. She has no other agenda nor is she in any hurry to rush us along. Experience has taught her that it is in the best interest of those under her care to provide answers to the questions her people ask while they are there. Several times I notice her watching us in conversation with Hank, the master wood carver.

Hank patiently answers our questions. Questions he’s been asked numerous times that day. Over the 4 to 6 years it takes to complete just one piece, I can only imagine how often he must explain the same information to people as they file through the carving studio. Yet, he never appears agitated or rushed with anyone who cares to talk with him. In fact, he is willing to visit with each one of us for as long as we want. We think we understand what he says, but realize that he is the expert with years of experience. We are merely novices to an art of which we know so very little.

Initially, our guide points out blocks of wood cut into cube-shaped objects. These are the beginnings of the animal’s long journey to their legacy on the carousel. Next, we note wood carvers chunking out those blocks into rough outlines of the particular part they are assigned to work on. As we progress deeper into the carving studio we meet our master wood carver, Hank. He is working tirelessly on helping Sally the cow emerge from the wood to be the incredible creation she is to become as defined by her creator, artist and sponsor. He is dedicated to the time-consuming task of taking away everything that is not a part of the vision they have for Sally.

With the finished rendering of Sally fixed in his mind and prominently displayed on the wall behind him and a large assortment of carving tools on one side, reference books on the other, Hank has everything he needs to accomplish the task before him. He has devoted weeks, months and even years to creating a delightful animal with precise detail. I can see the flowers on her body and, if I look real close, I see names carved into her covering. Hank tells us of his recent reshaping of her right front leg to make it more life-like. I’d never notice such a thing, but he cares about every detail of Sally. He knows what needs to happen to Sally to make her delightful, fun and attractive for all who come into contact with her. He’s been carving wood for decades–longer than I’ve been alive (and that’s a long time). He knows that it will take many years from start to finish for any one carousel animal, but he is willing to invest himself–his love and his time–in his creation. Whether seen from a distance or close up–now or 100 years from now–Sally will be a blessing for many once this arduous task of shaping her is complete. Hank knows this. It’s what keeps him motivated.

Contemplating the skilled craftsman’s hands working with just the right tool for the task before him at the moment, my eye is drawn to the wood shavings that are gathering on the floor as Sally is lovingly and carefully molded into the image of her creator–one shaving at a time. Some of the shavings are quite large while others are merely sawdust. I can’t help but see myself as Sally. The shavings represent the hard times God has seen me through while the sawdust reminds me of the smaller trials of life. I suspect that, just like Hank, my God knows the perfect tools to form me into the image He has destined for me to become. Fortunately for Hank, Sally doesn’t have a will of her own to oppose her creator. I do.

As Sally’s creator explains what he is doing, he tenderly caresses her with his all-knowing hand, clearly delighting in how she is taking shape. He points out a few places that he has had to make some rather major modifications on Sally by adding an additional piece of wood so her form would be just right or completely reshaping a part of her body. He explains the tedious process of shaping the wood, gluing it on (or cutting it off), waiting for the glue to set, then working the new piece into the her body so it becomes a part of who she is. This process in itself takes several weeks. Now I have joined Hank in caressing Sally. I can almost sense a living being as I touch her.

I am especially moved watching Hank sand his creation. He touches her with his skillful hand then gently sands her a few times, caresses her again. He’s constantly making the tiniest adjustments on her so that what started as several blocks of wood many years ago is slowly becoming the Sally that Hank envisions her to be.

Our guide tells us that once the master carver puts the eyes into his creation, the animal seems to come to life. She explained that Sally just recently had received her eyes. I agree. She looks more alive than the other carousel animals that do not yet have their eyes.

After spending years under the masterful hand of her wood carver, Sally will be moved to the painting room where the tedious process of stippling paint on every inch of her body begins. The paint will be layered then melted onto her. The vision of Sally will follow her to the painting room for the painters just as it has been with her in the carving studio.

(You can see what I’m talking about here by looking at Sampson the carousel chicken. You can see the poster–or vision–of what he will look like right next to the in-progress Sampson.)

A few years from now, Hank, the tour guide, and others involved in the making of Sally will join together as she is given her permanent home on he carousel at the Albany Carousel.

For mankind it takes 70+ years before the Lord has finished His work on us and we are given our home in heaven with our Creator. I believe that God has provided a glimpse into His tender love and care in forming me into the image of Christ at the Albany Carousel.

As I reflect on what the Lord has shown me about His spirit and how He interacts with me as a result of a visit to the wood carver’s studio at the the Albany Carousel, it occurs to me that often I expect those around me to be brilliant in color, strong as an ox, able to withstand abuse and give me great pleasure like the finished carousel animal. I think, however, that all of us live somewhere deep in the heart of the museum in the hands of our all-wise Master Carver patiently and lovingly removing the parts from our lives that don’t belong.

Thank you Lord for your patience as you patiently and lovingly remove the parts that do not belong to the person you are designing me to be. Give me eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou has for me! May I allow your Spirit to breathe life into my being as you use your perfect tools in my life to shape and form me so that I, too, may be perfectly placed by Your hand on the carousel of life. Lord, it is so difficult not to resist as You carve and sand out the rough parts in me. May I remember the lessons learned from the master carver and his creation at the Albany Carousel. Amen.

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Earth: A Masterpiece of Divine Workmanship

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What evidence do you have to support this statement? Unfortunately, man has contaminated much of the original creation, starting with the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, God has been reaching out in grace and mercy to draw man back to Himself. He demonstrates His love reaching out to man every day in ways that we just aren’t aware of.

God, in His goodness and beauty, has made a way for man to observe and interact with His original “masterpiece of Divine workmanship.” For example:

  • He still places the rainbow in the sky after a rain for a reminder that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood
  • He maintains the rotation of the earth in space so that we experience night and day; winter, spring, summer and fall
  • He continues to hold the earth in place so it is neither so close to the sun that it burns up nor is it so far from the sun that it freezes.

Job 26:7 declares that God “stretches out the north over the empty place, and hangs the earth upon nothing.”

Yet, at this moment, for me the most intriguing aspect of God’s Divine workmanship in His masterpiece, the earth, is . . .

The Fibonacci sequence, aka, the Divine proportion & the Golden Number

I will borrow a phrase from Matthew Maury (1806-1873), Father of Oceanography, to introduce these ideas as:

God’s handwriting on the earth.

Sometimes referred to as “the Fingerprint of God”, the Fibonacci sequence provides a fascinating study of the presence of God’s handiwork throughout much of nature. If you aren’t familiar with the Fibonacci sequence, do take a moment to learn a bit about Fibonacci, the Golden Number and the Divine proportion from the Artsy Craftsy Mom. After doing a fair amount of online research about Fibonacci’s discoveries, I’ve learned that the Fibonacci sequence is nothing short of a brilliant apologetic for Intelligent Design of our universe. It shows up in so many places—from the banana in your smoothie to the galaxies in space and beyond.

 

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As a spiral, it appears in numerous places—from the curve that is formed when you make a fist and look at the shape of your thumb and pointer finger to the shape of every wave in the ocean to the arrangement of the seeds in an apple.

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As the Divine proportion, it defines the proportions of the ‘perfect’ man, the face, proportion of joints in your finger, distance from foot to your belly button. Da Vinci was exploring the Divine proportion with his famous Vitruvian Man.

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Applied to music, the Fibonacci sequence can mathematically prove what is and what is not music. Debussy, Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven are some musicians who applied this sequence to their masterpieces. Da Vinci’s Last Supper and the Mona Lisa uses the Divine proportion in the placement of the figures and facial features. Even the proportions of the Ark of the Covenant are within the Golden Rectangle.

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Fibonacci discovered a resounding evidence for Intelligent Design of the universe. This comes up repeatedly in a geometry that is not taught in our schools where we are taught Euclidean geometry—cones, spheres, and triangles.

Fractal geometry, the geometry of nature, is the basis for ancient fractal art as well as the new fractal coloring books that are currently so popular here in the US.

Out of curiosity, I asked a math teacher for insight into the Fibonacci number sequence. His reply:

It is just a meaningless series of numbers that really doesn’t mean anything.

A meaningless series of numbers!?! Well, I suppose if you reject God’s Fingerprint all around you, this inescapable proof of His creation would be just that—meaningless and impossible to explain. For, to really explore this phenomenon would force one to at least consider the very real possibility of a Creator of the universe since it appears so often in so many places.

As Christians, we can look at the marvels of Creation and our hearts fill with wonder and awe at the handiwork of our God. We are able—indeed, we ought—to keep our eyes and minds open to discover and question what we find. Today I’m working on becoming more alert to the next glimpse of His Fingerprint that the Lord would reveal to me in the world in which I live. Won’t you join me?

If you would like to share some of the awe and wonder of God’s creation through the Fibonacci spiral with the children in your life, please visit A Faithful Attempt’s blog on Fibonacci spirals. You will find some video clips and step-by-step instructions for an art project this teacher did with her 4th-6th grade students.

If this brief introduction to Fibonacci, the Golden Number/Rectangle and the Divine proportion has piqued your interest, please do visit Golden Number, a website devoted to it’s beauty. The objective of this site is to:

Understand its [the Golden Number’s] very unique properties in Mathematics and Geometry, Appreciate its many appearances in LifeTheology and the Universe, Apply it in ArtDesignBeauty or Financial Markets, and Keep current with recent news on the golden ratio.

While you’re at the Golden Number, be sure to download the Golden Ruler so you can discover some Golden proportions in your world.

I’ve reached the end of this post. Time to ask you a question. What do you now know that you didn’t know when you started reading this post about the “earth as a masterpiece of Divine workmanship”? How could you inspire yourself and your children to discover yet more evidence of God’s Fingerprint?

Lord bless and keep you,

Cindy

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