I grew up 30 miles from the 2nd largest Amish community in America (Lancaster, PA). There are towns nearby where a version of Dutch is still spoken. A regular meal at my family gatherings to this day is hog maw (pig stomach, it’s wretched and no one here in Oregon has heard of it). All that to say that this Pennsylvania Dutch-ness led to me being surrounded by Calvinistic ideas – about God’s control and his hand that moves every piece of the set around.
I used to look at the landscape as I traveled around and marvel: “Wow, God created this river’s course with his own hand! It’s exactly where he wanted it,” and then I’d realize “This means God was actually HERE where I am today!” I’d stare at mountains and take in the beautiful shape God made them into, imaging his hands forming the peaks like a potter with clay.
I have to say I’ve changed. I still believe God created our world – but not the way I once belived. It’s not commonly known among many Americans that Oregon is a very volcanic landscape. Especially where I live – there’s an enormous field of lava that stretches for dozens of miles that the first astronauts walked on to get a feel for what the moon’s surface would be similar to. You can see exactly where a cinder cone burst it”s contents onto the area around it, and even walk in the lava cave formed from where the hot lava once traveled through.
I don’t think God personally burst those cinder cones anymore. But that doesn’t mean I think less highly of God and his creation – in fact just the opposite. Instead of a sculptor enslaved to attention to detail, giving every rock it’s particular point or edge, I see God as a master Creator who built into his work the ability for it to keep creating. God set into the motion a creation that isn’t stuck but keeps shifting and forming and changing.
No longer do I stare at rivers and imagine God’s finger running through the dirt, carving the twists and turns and drops. I know now that water merely follows the path of least resistance, and this is how the rivers and gorges and canyons were formed. I don’t see the clouds as God’s artwork in the sky, just like his sunsets, but I know what he set into the motion all the forces that make the beautiful fluffy clouds and the step-stopping-skies.
I’d have difficult loving a Controller, but I can definitely love a Creator.