Cheese samples in a grocery store bear the sticker, “Try me!” The Nightmare Before Christmas effortlessly entices a certain fondness of itself in its soundtrack, characters, and quirky story. The Brothers Karamazov is the sort of novel that so totally consumes the reader that once he’s finished, he’s compelled by instinct to exhort others to read it. People like good things, particularly because it’s in the nature of good things to spread out and make themselves known. God is good, goodness itself, so he makes himself known in the best ways. This is one way how we understand revelation: a certain love of God that is so powerful it must communicate itself.
Of course, God’s goodness and power to convey it is infinitely beyond that of films, novels, and free cheese. So why doesn’t he simply appear in the sky over the whole earth today and forever stamp out the problems of different faiths, theological arguments, and moral quandaries?
I think it’s because that wouldn’t be the most loving way to do it. Let’s take a fragment of human experience and run with it for a moment:
It’s obviously more calming to ride through the country than the city. Heavy traffic, construction sites, speed cameras, perpetual red lights, and blaring car horns leave no lasting sense of peace. The God-given good things of nature have difficulty being communicated there. In areas not yet overtaken by “civilization,” we subconsciously permit only the most unobtrusive technology to permeate our view of the rural landscape. Silos, barns, farm fences, and waterwheels suggest man may retain dominion over the earth while still respecting its awe-inspiring dignity.
The fullness of revelation (Jesus Christ, God in the flesh) came to us almost 14 billion years after God’s first revelation: creation. As the fullness speaks to us still in the Church and throughout our lives, so the first revelation continues to speak if we take a moment to listen.
The immensity of space and all it holds is enough to lose even the greatest novice of science in wonder. As stars continue to form and burst, volumes of matter collapse under the weight of gravity to create countless galaxies which can ceaselessly tell stories of the billions of solar systems contained within them. Thinking on our own home beginning its development about nine and a half billion years into the game ought to supply enough mental food for a lifetime. We can try and picture gases mixing and cooling, the crust forming, the biosphere settling and bringing rain, weather, and life that would eventually launch human history, and still not even begin to tap into the awe-inspiring wonder of creation.
Fast-forward four billion years and zoom in to the top of Furnace Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. At the summit, one is rewarded a 360 degree rocky overlook on surrounding valleys and mountaintops. The trail uphill and the view afterward are equally breathtaking. To imagine the time and effort of nature to offer this one particular outlook on this one point on Earth, in an immensely smaller pinpoint compared to the rest of the created universe, is more than astounding. How fortunate we are to exist and to experience the smallest fraction of a drop of God’s majestic creation! From the beginning of what we would come to know as time, God had in mind that particular view from that one mountain top, and he knew that one day his children would be able to climb up and enjoy it. That’s love, goodness, and speech if there ever was such a thing!
God is good. He still communicates himself. His first revelation, just like the fullness, continues to speak. Let us listen.
Image: The Shenandoah Valley.