Monday, 26 October 2009

Wordless words

'The heavens declare the glory of God...day after day they pour forth speech' Psalm 19.1-2

So God does speak to us through the natural word. And yet it is a kind of sign language, in fact, even less distinct than sign language. Because ultimately sign language is expressing words.

The natural world expresses the grandeur of God in the sense that it intimates a magnificence beyond our normal lives. Perhaps one effect of industrialisation is that increasingly individuals are shielded from the natural world, surrounded by concrete and spending much of their time indoors. Indeed according to a BBC programme called Countryfile I heard an expression for the first time today-'Nature deficiency syndrome'-it seems our children are growing up with very limited knowledge of the natural world.

A few brief thoughts.

1. It's worth making the effort to gaze up at the sky-day or (especially a clear) night. Just remind yourself how big the universe is and how awesome the creator God is. As far as we can tell the vastness of the universe is an extravagance and such extravagance reminds us of a very prodigal God-unbelievably generous and 'overflowing with mercy'.
2. Like all non verbal communication it can be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Thus many people do not think of the grandeur of God when looking out over the ocean or looking up at a mountain.
3. This Psalm does not end with 'the heavens', but goes to to speak of the 'perfect word of God' (V7). We need more than the natural world to truly know God. It gives a lie to the claim often made that 'I find God in the garden or in the fields and I don't need the Bible or church or any of that stuff'. Its not so much impossible to do that but it's incomplete. Wordless words can only take you so far.

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