On Saturday night I was woken at around 3.30am by a loud thunderclap and the bedroom was lit by continuous flashes of lightning as a storm raged overhead. All across the country people reached for their cameras and smart phones to capture these elemental forces at work in the heavens. In the blink of an eye ten billion watts of electricity are discharged in each stupendous bolt of light, and the storm took nearly an hour to pass!
It is in moments such as these that the astonishing forces that power our universe are glimpsed and I for one was left in awe and wonder; “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1). The immense scale of such a natural event got me thinking about the subtlety and complexity of the created world in which we live from the microscopic to the intergalactic, and the “natural” blessings of which we mostly take entirely for granted.
I asked myself as I lay awake in bed, “How many atoms are there in a grain of sand?” and I was astonished, the following morning, to discover that there are between 50-100 million, million, million. All of these atoms (each made up of compound elements which themselves contain multiple sub atomic particles) in a single grain of sand! At the same time all of the particles of the universe operate to a common set of rules, interacting with each other in predictable ways that mathematicians and scientists have been unravelling for millennia; because God made us an inquisitive species, "naturally" curious about our world and the universe beyond.
“When I consider your heavens and the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” (Psalm 8:3-6).
This week’s poem reflects on a peculiarly human paradox. God made us with the unique capacity to investigate and explore the wonders of the universe. Yet the more we discover, it seems the more we become convinced there is no God! “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God,’” and “The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 14:1&2). Even this it seems was known to Him from the beginning.
A hundred trillion particles
Bound by force unseen
Into a sharp edged grain of grit
That catches between toe and sandal,
And for a moment is our grumbling focus
Before being shaken out and at once forgot!
A flash of brightest yellow
And of iridescent blue green jet,
With wings that beat a thousand times
In every minute,
Flickers in the corner of my eye,
Before a thoughtless sidelong sweep
Removes its life
And end its ordained time.
The casualness of living in a blessing,
Where every atom, every moment,
Is obedient to its deep created-ness,
Makes men so proud
That folly follows after
And so declare there is no God,
Whilst all the while
Breathing deep-in of all His Being.
So let me sit awhile
In summer’s warming sun,
To catch a glimpse of heaven’s plans
And listen to the wild bird’s song;
To know that I am His, Creation's King
Who holds my all in nail-scarred hands.
(c) Martin Wild 2018