Seeing Through Things

I took a large amount of philosophy classes in college, so many that it became one of my three minors in route to a Liberal Arts degree. One goal of philosophy is to see through things to grasp a larger meaning. Many of the great philosophers sought ways to understand the world around them. They knew there is a deeper meaning in the things of the world and they sought to discover what in fact it was. Unfortunately for many of them they never found a deeper meaning, accepted that there was an ultimate truth or they put their trust in ultimate truth in the wrong place, namely themselves or the human conscience. A person cant understand truth if he doesn’t understand the way to find truth. The search for truth has a definite way and that way leads to life and this is the tragedy of a failed philosophy: it misses the way, the truth and the life.

One of the marvels of Christianity is that God has given us things in the world and not only for its base use. Food is for more than survival. We have food to see that God is good and gives us good things. Food is to show that God alone provides because God alone is God. The sun does many things for us, but to only see the thing in the sky that provides light is to only see the sun. The sun is bright, large and powerful for us to see the majesty and glory of the Triune God. As Christians we see this truth and know that we have found the way and this way leads to life. Christians are able to enjoy the many good and natural gifts that exist not in spite of what they point to, but precisely because of who they point to. God gives us these gifts and we enjoy them. By enjoying them we are enjoying Him, both God and the gift in full without losing the grandeur of either one.

This way of seeing the world has often been used by Christians as an apologetic means of defending the faith. The natural world gives evidence that there must be someone ordering things. So if you see the moon in the sky, then you know that someone made and placed the moon. If there is a moon, then there is a moon maker. As the old country saying goes, “if you put a turtle on a fence post then you know someone put it there.” Order demands someone must put things in order, because turtles don’t naturally climb fence posts. There are many, myself included, that find this way of understanding the world refreshing and helpful. God is a God of order and the foundation of logic. He gives us logic and knowledge to understand the world He has made and wisdom to see the deeper meaning behind what He has created.

Unfortunately, seeing the natural world as ordered with deeper meaning is where many of us stop using this method of learning. When we see the natural world, we look and see what is made and what it points to, but we often fail to apply this principle to the seemingly smaller things in life. We are able to see the sun, but not that which is right in front of us. We see the glory of God behind the sun and the existence of God in placing the sun in the sky, but we often fail to see what is behind a pile of dirty clothes and a living room scattered with toys. We fail to see that a pile of dirty clothes means a family that lives in our home that we get to share our lives with. We see a cluttered living room with toys and not kids that we are blessed to call our own, kids that are happy and enjoying the gifts of God to them. It is easy to miss this and to become frustrated over all the work we have or the messes that need to be cleaned up. 

Why do I do this? Because I want order and no one to put things in order. I want order and to be left alone. I want things in place and my clothes clean. In other words, my flesh is bent towards me and to look towards myself. Dirty clothes and a messy living room cause me frustration because I am bent inwards. I am not God and in this way fail to reflect him. God is an outward looking God and gives us the sun, moon, turtles, clothes, toys and kids as a gift for us to enjoy and to see his glory and I often miss it. I dislike interruptions because its stops me from getting work done, when often its someone calling or stopping by to say hello, or asking my opinion on something because they love me and value my opinion. I let mere accomplishment and order take over the people I’m writing for, studying for to prepare sermons and teaching sessions, or the kids that run in my office to show me their drawings and to tell me about the exciting time they just had in God’s world. I saw a fence post only and not the oddity or humor of seeing a turtle on it. 

It’s easy to miss the blessings of the good life because we working so hard to have the good life. The good life is in the tasks that make us tired, the tasks that we seem to do all day. Its in the cooking, cleaning, reading stories, going to work, working with others, providing for our families, talking with friends, enjoying good food and drinks all while giving thanks that we have all of these things in front of us, that we have these messes to clean up and people to interrupt us. Without them, then there would be lots of work and no one to share the crop with. Sure, we would have the messes and we’d have more time, but what is the good of having written an article if no one reads it and is helped by it, or a clean house if no one is there to live in it or to clean up from? I’m learning to enjoy God’s world and his goodness more, even if it means it takes me longer to do the same thing over and over again. After, all He gave me these things to do: for his glory and my joy. I’m learning that I have more to be thankful for than I ever imagined and for that I am grateful.