Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Praising God . . . for pack rats?

I was thinking this morning more about the issue of praising God. It’s a subject that I used to not understand at all but have come to appreciate so very much. In fact, now it’s not a matter of choosing to, or being told I should worship God, but instead it’s a part of my very being—I can no more not worship God than I can not breathe. This fundamental difference in me has made me think more about what exactly is the difference between then and now.

I realize that then my concept of God was a bit shaky. In many ways I thought of God as a man. Not that I intentionally tried to make him over in my image, but since man was all I knew about, that’s how I saw my God. Of course he was a much bigger man than I was, and much smarter, more powerful, wiser, holier, and well, just much more than I, but still in my thinking he was a man. Coupled with the belief that God was an exalted form of me too was the belief that if I did all the right things, and tried hard enough that I too would/could become a god myself. Both of these beliefs coupled together to form a god image that in many ways really wasn’t worthy of praise—I mean, I could do this, it wasn’t an impossible task—hard certainly, but not impossible.

My image of God now though is so much different. In fact, it’s so big that I have trouble really explaining it completely, and won’t even try to do it in just one blog.

An example of this is my image of God as the Creator of the Universe. Genesis 1:1 tells us that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The verses after this verse describe how exactly God went about that, and it’s interesting to note that in every single instance God said, and it was then created. Thinking about that just blows my mind! It takes me at least a half hour to “create” a simple meal and this is something I do each and every day, and yet God spoke and the world, each and every aspect of it, was created. I can’t even begin to imagine the power behind that, not to mention the knowledge (and wisdom!) that all had to come together to create a world like what we live in, not to mention the rest of the universe.

The bigness of this is one reason that all throughout the Old Testament Israel is pointed back to God as their amazing Creator and praised again and again and again. To see what I mean go to and type in the key word “created” and then read through just a few of the verses. This concept was so big in Jewish thought that it’s one of the major themes of the Old Testament.

Awhile back, I was cleaning up around my mother’s house and the immensity of creation really overwhelmed me with praise and gratitude to my Creator through the nest of a pack rat. For those who don’t live in the desert, a pack rat is a real nuisance. They are rats that live outdoors and collect junk to make their den. You can quickly tell their nests by the garbage collected around, usually a pile of cactus, papers, various seeds, foods, and even scraps of metal and plastic. Here are some photos for the uninitiated. 

Of course for those who dwell in the desert these nests are unsightly, not to mention most people don’t appreciate rats living near their houses. My mother is no exception so I was trying to clean out the rat’s nest for her.

What I discovered though was simply amazing! You see, the organic debris that the pack rat had gathered and made into a nest was degrading: it was breaking down into basic organic material. Those in wetter climates might not find this very interesting, but in the desert the process of organic material degrading doesn’t happen very quickly. A cactus can die and lie in the desert for decades in basically its same form. But, the rats, my mother’s scourge, actually were taking material that might never biodegrade, and making it break down and enrich the soil. (A process that is needed for the next generation of cactus or brush to grow!)

I know this is a small thing and probably not too significant in most people’s eyes, but for me it was eye opening to see that our Creator God had planned (and planted) an animal in the desert that did a whole bunch of things to make the desert more fertile. I didn’t plan that—my mother certainly didn’t (her plan was to kill them all), but our Creator God who knows way, way more things than I do thought ahead and planned it so that the desert could blossom and grow.

From this discovery I was filled with awe for my God—you see, my God is so big, so smart, so wise, that He planned out every single detail of creation. He didn’t just speak and hope things would turn out OK. He didn’t just accidentally create all of this stuff that works out so very well. He didn’t just put a plan in motion and hope it worked out. He didn’t do any of that, but instead He planned for every single intricate detail of nature to work together for His glory—even pack rats!

And it’s just these details about God, my amazing God, that bring praise to my lips and joy to my heart. It comes quite naturally because I see, really see, how BIG He really is, and how very worthy of praise He is.

1 comment: