I keep looking up the number of stars in the galaxies, forgetting, looking them up again. Too many stars to remember how many. 70 thousand million, million, million. 70 sextillion.
So many stars. So many galaxies. Such a big universe.
Anything is possible.
* * *
When I consider the heavens, the work of your hands,
The moon and stars that you have made…
Those ancient words course through me, almost involuntarily as I gaze the heavens. Words I have always been taught are inspired.
I go through phases of asking, “Are they inspired? Are they not? Are they inspired word of God? Or not?
* * *
The traditional Christian belief is that the Bible is divinely inspired, almost divinely dictated.
How sweet the thought–that God has dictated words to me, through his human instruments.
Sweet, but hard to believe–this whole book divinely inspired?
Hard to believe, but possible, like the creation of galaxies, like the “miraculous” lifting of cancer from a human body, which has been documented again and again, as in Andrew Weil’s Spontaneous Healing or Kelly Turner’s Radical Remission.
Somebody has put this watch together, this complicated jigsaw puzzle of a world, animals, plants, butterflies, sun, moon and stars working together synergistically to support all that is wild and wonderful. This beautiful, brilliant ecosystem in which everything is beautiful and useful.
That this God should dictate thoughts to humans is certainly is not too hard for me to believe as a writer. How many times have I had the experience of writing things very fast, as fast as my fingers could type. Where did these words come from, my unconscious or a kind mind beyond myself? It is actually a common experience of writers.
In the case of the sacred words, they were unanimously accepted as sacred for, well, millennia, perhaps because we instinctively sense something numinous about them. Perhaps because of their impact on our lives when we obey them.
* * *
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
The first words of Genesis. 48 words in English, but I read them, and ideas spring forth, illumination, revelation. I could write several blog posts about them… and I have .
I love the words of Shakespeare and Milton, but they don’t fill my soul with energy, with creativity, with new ideas, with energy, make my feet jubilant, so to say.
The words of Scripture are qualitatively different, they speak to spirit as well as mind. They are “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, they penetrate even to soul and spirit, joints and marrow; they judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
* * *
So since we will never know for sure this side of eternity whether God indeed dictated those words, we choose to believe. Or not.
There is a moving story of the moment when, under pressure from his fellow evangelist Charles Templeton Billy Graham almost lost his faith in the sacredness of scripture. He makes a choice by faith to believe and goes on to have an influential, fruitful life. I have met people who have converted, or had parents who converted, at a Graham crusade. Templeton leads an empty life, and eventually says, almost in tears, “I miss Jesus.”
* * *
So on my walk today, I asked myself, “Tell me chile; what will you decide? Inspired: not inspired? Sacred, or human?”
I have heard God “speak” to me, several times, and have obeyed, and the consequences have been challenging but blessed. Definitely blessed.
I have written things as if at dictated to me by a power beyond myself. Several poets, Milton, Blake, Rilke, Julia Ward Howe, have had that experience.
No doubt, the sacred writers did so too. They certainly claimed that the Lord spoke those words to them, a serious claim to make if it were not true, serious in those days, serious now.
Why should I assume that when they wrote, “The word of the Lord came to me” they were lying? Or deluded?
* * *
I thought of Christians I knew well who had their lives moulded and formed by Scripture. And I thought of lives of other good people, Christian and non-Christian, who had no time for Scripture.
The life of a person who takes Scripture seriously and OBEYS it looks one way–see this beautiful profile of John Stott.
The life of a Christian who is not shaped and moulded by that great source of wisdom… well, that too shows.
* * *
So as I walked alone for two hours by the river, I asked myself again.
“So Anita, what are you going to decide today? Is your Bible God’s word to you or not? Inspired or not?”
If you decide Yay, your life will look one way. Like your Christian heroes perhaps. Decide Nay, and it will be an ordinary, pedestrian life. No wings at all. No walking on water.”
* * *
Whenever I accept those words as God’s word to me and act accordingly, I sense a huge infusion of wisdom and peace and guidance into my life.
Accept it as the inspired word of God?
I would be crazy not to.