a monthly devotional journal
Issue No. 58
In this issue:
Perspective 1 - The Fingerprints of God
Perspective 2 - In the Eye of the Beholder
Perspective 3 - The Eternal Oneness
It goes by several names, variously referred to as the Unified Field Theory or the Unification of Physics or The Ultimate Theory of the Universe. Albert Einstein spent the last 30 years of his life trying to prove it--and failed. Just what is this grand Unification Theory?
"In physics, a theory that proposes to unify the four known interactions, or forces--the strong, electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational forces--by a simple set of general laws. The attempts to develop a unified field theory are grounded in the belief that all physical phenomena should ultimately be explainable by some underlying unity." 
This unification theory is, essentially, an attempt to explain the entirety of the universe--and everything that occurs within it--by one easily understandable law. A tall order, and, as the eminent theoretical physicist Professor Stephen W. Hawking points out, difficult to prove.
"We could never be quite sure that we had indeed found the correct theory, since theories can't be proved." 
I would like to propose a different Grand Unification theory--one that can, in my opinion, be proved. That unifying theory would be this:
This theory of mine (which, in truth, is not really a theory at all, since it can be backed up by Scripture and experience) is not animistic in nature, suggesting that God is actually in everything--as the animist might believe that a supreme being physically resides in every tree and rock and body of water.
But it is to say that for the Spiritual person, everything points to God. God is all in all, and if we so choose to seek Him, we will find Him wherever we look.
It isn't that we find ourselves bumping into God at every turn; it's not necessarily like running into an old friend we might happily meet on the street. Rather, it is like seeing and experiencing everything in our life as if through our own private "God Filter." The Spirit, in residence in our body, receives and translates every experience into a form that both glorifies God and illumines His character for us. So this "theory" has less to do with God's omnipresence, as it does His omni-influence.
Most people segment their lives, ignoring the fact that everything points toward, or leads forward or back to, God. Most people would rather isolate the Spiritual part of their life--if not literally restricting it to Sundays, at least segregating it from their day-to-day activities.
If they spend forty hours during the week roofing houses, for example, that activity is, for them, separate from Sunday morning worship; never mixing, like oil and water. That doesn't mean that for those forty hours they are despicable heathen and on Sunday morning they magically become sanctified saints; it's just that they see no obvious connection or relationship between what are to them disparate parts of their lives.
The Spiritual person, in contrast, welcomes into his life all that God is willing to reveal of Himself at any time. And what is that? Oehler has said that this is
"the whole nature of God, by which He attests His personal presence in the relation into which He has entered with man, the divine self-manifestation, or the whole of that revealed side of the divine nature, which is turned towards man." 
This means then that the Spiritual person is always ready--even eager--to worship his or her God at any time. As God is revealed, He is worshipped. One cannot be illumined by the truth of God without, as a result, worshipping or praising the one just revealed.
For what is revealed is not natural, but supernatural. The revelation of God--whether found inside a majestic cathedral or atop a roof littered with new shingles--should have the effect of bringing us to our knees in awe-struck adoration for the One who created not only us, but everything about us.
A new Unifying Theory?
God--that is, God as represented by any member of the Triunity of the Godhead--is an active participant in our lives. To imagine that one meets God only during weekly, corporate worship is a little like imagining that one is only bound by one's marriage vows once a year during the anniversary celebration; the rest of the year one is free to disregard the commitment to, or even the presence of, the marital partner. Ridiculous? Precisely.
It is easy in our present culture to practice a comfortable, reassuring arrogance about what God doesn't know.
Many is a time I have been stumped by something my computer is doing--or not doing. Often I have wracked my brain, trying in vain to come up with the solution to a problem, for one example, in the writing of a computer program. Why in the world won't the code segmentWhile P <> 0 do begin if P > 1 then WriteBit(copy(Str,1,pred(P))); Delete(Str,1,P); inc(X,pred(P)); P := Pos('~',Str); Hi := not Hi; end;
do what I want it to? Why can't I get it to work properly? But rarely in the midst of my frustration over technical quandaries do I turn to my heavenly Father for help. Somewhere, like many others, I have picked up the arrogant concept that God, while useful for such things as emotional needs, interpersonal relationships or Scripture clarification, is surely befuddled by technology. I mean, how could some old man with a white beard, dressed in flowing robes, know anything about the modern computer and my misbehaving program? He could, and He does, because He's the one who invented it.
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." Acts 17:24-25
There is nothing in our world that God does not know, because there is nothing in our world that God did not create. Since He created it, everything in the world bears His fingerprints.
In the early 1700s Antonio Stradivari created violins, violas and cellos that are still considered the very finest stringed instruments around. An accomplished musician, such as the violinist Itzhak Perlman, can hear and feel the tonal quality of a Stradivarius without even looking for the name of the manufacturer printed inside. The exquisite instrument bears the fingerprint--in this case, the sound--of the master craftsman.
The Spiritual person sees God all around, because everything bears His mark--the fingerprints of the creator.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20
We are free to disregard the signs of His influence, but we do so by our own choice--and at our own risk; God has spread Himself around so liberally that we have no excuse not to discover Him.
He is in the breeze that cools us in the midst of summer heat. He is in the soft cooing of the baby, pleasant and content within its mother's arms. He is in the rhythmic lapping of small waves on the shore of the mountain lake, and the burbling song of the stream traveling over and around water-smoothed boulders.
He is found in the chatter and shared intimacies of old friends over a weathered picket fence. He is found in the crushing, incessant noise of the city as well as in the bucolic stillness of the country glen.
God is near us in every tragedy and joy, every sorrow and ecstasy. His life surrounds our own, holding us up, nurturing, coaxing, chastising and encouraging. He is there when we are aware of Him and when we are not.
More than just a reassuring comfort, His presence actually describes God to us. He has left His fingerprints all about us not just so that we would know that He is there, but that we might come to understand who is there. It is God's nature, His personality, His very essence that is there for the possessing, and we will remain something less than what we could be, until we avail ourselves of that knowledge.
Into the Word
The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn. Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 89:5-18
Digging Deeper--Moving Higher
Making it Personal
Very often when we begin something new, we begin close to home, then gradually work our way out from that familiar starting point. I would like to suggest that the opposite approach would be more appropriate in this instance.
If the concept of seeing or looking for God's fingerprints in the things around you is new to you--or if you are just out of practice--I suggest that you begin developing this habit with objects larger and further away, then gradually work your way back to those things closer to you.
Objects seen from a distance are often larger and more grand; it's not difficult to see God's fingerprints on the mountains or crashing waves or a deep-orange sunset. These larger objects seem to match the grandeur we commonly assign to our God.
But more difficult are those thing closer to us--objects that have become so commonplace to us that we usually ignore them altogether. The front lawn may not be nearly so grand as Muir Woods, but the same God made it; our child's sand pile may not be nearly so impressive as the Rocky Mountains, but God's fingerprints are on each one of those grains.
Begin the process today. Begin actively looking for God in everything--and everybody--around you.
"Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere." 
Into the Word
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. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:1-3,9-11,14-15,20,24,26
"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'" Acts 17:26-28
God's word, filled with marvelous stories of men and women seeking after and finding Him, makes it clear that He desires close communion with His people. God wants to have a personal relationship with His children. To that end, He wants us to look for Him.
This summer, Linda and I have been watching a young fawn grow out of his spots. At some time during most evenings the youngster will arrive with his mother in tow. They come for the saltlick, to drink from the pond, to munch fallen acorns, and to browse upon Linda's flowers and shrubs--but mostly they come because they know that here they are safe.
The young fawn is a handful for his mother, always gamboling off, getting into trouble, and generally sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. He hasn't the experience and maturity of his mother, so isn't as cautious as he should be; he's not yet learned to be afraid. The young one is a little too eager to come snooping close to the house, not yet understanding that most people will not be his friend.
"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."
The older deer is a good mother. She always keeps one eye on her youngster and one eye out for danger. More experienced than her son, she hears potential danger in the snapping of twigs, in the flash of light-colored fabric through the windows of the house, in any sound she cannot quickly identify.
The fawn's mother is a good protector. One evening Linda was out weeding her vegetable garden while I was in the house fixing dinner. Out the window I spied the doe and her fawn; they approached, rounded the corner of the pond, and headed through the woods toward the garden. There was no way for me to alert Linda to their presence without also alerting them, so I just waited to see what would happen.
The mother led the way toward the garden; soon I lost sight of her in the trees, but could still see the fawn bringing up the rear. Suddenly the little one froze and his mother let loose with a loud snort--a clear sign that she had discovered my wife, and was expressing her displeasure over Linda's presence. After a few more indignant snorts from his mom, the fawn turned and ran back the way they had come, while his mother guarded his retreat.
When she made it back over the barbed-wire fence ahead of him, the little one faltered, not sure his legs would get him over the barrier. Hearing his frightened bleating, she returned to the fence, grunting encouragement, trying to convince him he could make it on his own.
When the fawn decided he didn't even want to try, his mother leaped back over the fence and patiently led him to a place where he could get through without jumping over.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31
We see what we will. Some may look upon that doe and fawn and see little more than pretty wildlife, a momentary amusement. Others may see a prime target through the sights of their shotgun.
But I prefer to see God in the patient care and nurturing of that mother deer. I see how God watches over us, protects us--all the while trying to teach us lessons that will cause us to grow up healthy and strong.
Our Father challenges us to learn His ways, so that we might know Him more intimately. But when we falter along the way, when we stumble--when we are too afraid to make that leap of faith, He patiently returns, takes us by the hand, and leads us to safety.
"The knowledge that God is present is blessed, but to feel His presence is nothing less than sheer happiness." 
Into the Word
Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
Digging Deeper--Moving Higher
Making it Personal
Record here some of your impressions and thoughts after spending time looking for--and finding?--God.What things seem different to you know? How are they different? Have these observations changed your feelings for God in any way?
Into the Word
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate--bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees. The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys. The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening. How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number--living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works--he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord. Psalm 104:1-35
Twenty-five years ago, during the waning days of my very young bachelorhood, I was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Chicago, just off the coast of Vietnam in the Tonkin Gulf. My even younger betrothed was back in Iowa, being distracted by college while she planned our impending nuptials.
While it is true that I yearned for her, I was nonetheless kept far from my beloved. She may have been constantly in my thoughts and dreams, but our moments together consisted entirely of written correspondence and, during the six-month period of the cruise, one achingly brief phone call placed from the Philippines.
As a result of this period of separation, by the time the ship finally docked in San Diego upon its return voyage, the young woman awaiting me on the pier was, in many respects, still a stranger. We had dated for about a year prior to my entering the service, but since then had had only periodic visits to replenish the longing we felt for each other. So by the time our wedding date arrived, we had been mostly apart for more than a year.
Memories and photographs and hand-smudged letters written from the depths of a lonely heart cannot faithfully stand in for a loved one's physical presence. All that time apart meant that we had a lot of catching up to do. It meant that even though we loved each other deeply, there were still many things about each other that remained a mystery.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one." Matthew 19:5-6aLinda and I have now been married almost twenty-five years. During that quarter century the earlier pattern has been mostly reversed: our almost constant time together has been only periodically interrupted by brief separations.
As husband and wife, Linda and I have seen wondrous sights and have visited far-off lands; we have passed through times of great joy and withering sorrow; we have grown and shared and have faced side-by-side the many surprises that life has thrown our way.
As a result, we now have a profound and intimate knowledge of each other. Where once were mysteries, there is now a deep and abiding understanding. Distant longing has been replaced by the embodiment of God's mystical 'oneness.'
The Spiritual person longs for this same level of intimacy with the Lord. But such intimacy does not take place over great distances; one must draw near to the object of one's desire.
My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart Jeremiah 24:6-7
Intimacy with the Father--and with His Son, Jesus Christ--is something that must be nurtured and cultivated, much like a boy and girl court, then begin building a lifetime relationship through shared experience. It does not happen overnight and it does not happen by accident. It is not naturally in the heart of man to see God in the objects and people and events which surround him.
Just as a man and woman do not necessarily become 'one flesh' on their wedding night, the believer does not enjoy this level of intimacy with the Father on the day he or she accepts Christ. It comes upon a life through practice and a deep-seated hunger to know this One who is at once Lord of the universe and keeper of the heart.
"God is indeed there. He is there as He is here and everywhere, not confined to a tree or stone, but free in the universe, near to everything, next to everyone, and through Jesus Christ immediately accessible to every loving heart. This truth is to the convinced Christian a source of deep comfort in sorrow and of steadfast assurance in all the varied experiences of his life. To him 'the practice of the presence of God' consists not of projecting an imaginary object from within his own mind and then seeking to realize its presence; it is rather to recognize the real presence of the One whom all sound theology declares to be already there, an objective entity, existing apart from any apprehension of Him on the part of His creatures. The resultant experience is not visionary but real." 
Into the Word
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Digging Deeper--Moving Higher
"The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be 'received' without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is 'saved,' but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and is encouraged to be content with little.
"The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His word. We have almost forgotten that God is a person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can. It is inherent in personality to be able to know other personalities, but full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving mental intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored.
"[God] communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.You and I are in little (our sins excepted) what God is in large. Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him."
Making it Personal
One of the true tests of intimacy with the Father, is when the believer is able to see Him in even the more tragic or unpleasant events that take place. James tells us to
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
One of the things gained (or 'not lacking') when we see God in our trials is that we come to understand His personality. This is a part of the desired intimacy. The more we learn of God's personality and His attributes, the less worried we are when trials come.
This is a practiced response; it is not natural for us to see God at work behind events we consider tragedy. James says that we not only can find God in our trials, but we can also find joy. God usually is responsible for the joy in a believer's life.
If this practice is not already a part of your walk with Christ, begin the process today. He is there--both active and waiting for you; seek Him out, find Him, embrace Him.
"Of the many that are afflicted and oppressed, few get the good they might get by their affliction. It should drive them to God, but how seldom is this the case."
Into the Word
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:1-22
Issue No. 58
[1.] Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1993 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1993 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation; emphasis added. (return to footnote 1)
[2.] Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Bantam, 1988), p167. (return to footnote 2)
[3.] Quoted in the Commentary on the Old Testament by C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch (Eerdman's, 1985), Volume I, p.120. (return to footnote 3)
[4.] Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901). (return to footnote 4)
[5.] Henry van Dyke (1852-1933); verses 2 & 4. (return to footnote 5)
[6.] Ralph Waldo Emerson. (return to footnote 6)
[7.] Dr. Allen Fleece, as quoted by A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in The Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), p119. (return to footnote 7)
[8.] A.W. Tozer, Ibid, p118. (return to footnote 8)
[9.] E. May Grimes (1868-1927). (return to footnote 9)
[10.] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Christian Publications, 1982), p12ff. (return to footnote 10)
[11.] Matthew Henry. (return to footnote 11)
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