A Cosmic Coincidence? – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 129

Filmed before the solar eclipse on April 8, John discusses the way nature reveals our Creator and why we should care for His creation.

– Something a little different today, Alliance family. What was the first thing that God gave human beings to do? We’re filming this on Monday, April 8th, from the NewLife Community Church, our Alliance church in Fredericktown, Ohio. I’m grateful for Pastor Andy and his hospitality to us, letting us invade his yard for this shoot. Today is the solar eclipse, starting from southern Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, making its way all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland, Canada. We are in its pathway here in the heartland of Ohio, and I thought this was an opportunity for us to have a conversation we don’t normally have in the C&MA, about our Creator and His creation and our responsibility for creation care.

We all know that the news media has made a big deal about today. Some have called it “a cosmic coincidence.” The BBC referred to it as “a fortuitous quirk.” The fact that the sun is 400 times farther away from the Earth than the moon, and the fact that the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun creates this cosmic intersection where the moon fits perfectly into the orb of the sun as humans can see it from planet Earth. And we see that, as followers of Christ, not as a quirk or a coincidence but as the creation of a Master Designer, a fabulous Architect and Engineer and Creator and Artist, and all those things that our God is. Because the first thing that we learn about our God is that He exists and that He creates.

In the beginning, God created. This is like God’s calling card, the way He introduces Himself. Not just in Genesis 1, but in places like Jeremiah 33: “This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it, the Lord is His name: ‘Call to me and I’ll answer you.'” Jeremiah’s introducing the speaker of his message by introducing God as the Creator. Zechariah does the same thing in chapter 12:1. “This is what the word of the Lord says concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him.” This is our speaking God, who is our creating God. And we have this world because He spoke and it came to be; He commanded and it has stood firm, according to Psalm 33. The speaking act of God. And it is our privilege as believers to have faith, as it says in Hebrews 11, that what we see was not made out of what was visible. That He, our creating God, spoke this world into existence by the very breath of His mouth. So we have a strong view of the Creator, and that delights us, that gives us some insight and meaning and joy for a moment like this.

But then I think of my friend that I’ll call Carl at this moment. Carl had come to our church and had come to faith in Jesus Christ as a middle-aged man with great enthusiasm, great interest in the Bible and the gospel and the church, and became very involved in some of the ministries of the church. But all of us in ministry, probably, have had the sad experience of somebody that we have walked with in their faith journey deciding to walk away from the faith. And Carl came to a point, year three into his walk with Jesus, where he came to me one day and said, “I don’t believe any longer. I’m becoming an agnostic.” I pressed for why. And it was obvious that there were multiple reasons. But his concluding statement was, “God just hasn’t given me enough reasons to believe that He exists.” At the very moment that Carl said those words to me, we were in Salem, Oregon, at the state capitol grounds on a gorgeous spring day where the rhododendrons and azaleas were in full bloom, flowers all around us, and a multiplicity of colors. The bees were pollinating those flowers and the whole world had exploded in beauty and color. And I looked around and thought, “Carl, just look.” But for Carl, the creation wasn’t enough.

I actually got a hold of him again, I think it was 2017 when the last solar eclipse was coming across the West Coast of America. And I raised this very question about the perfect size of how we perceive the moon and the sun- that it’s not too big to obliterate the whole thing, it’s not so small so it looks like a Ping-Pong ball, but it perfectly fits. “Carl, can’t you see this, another evidence of design? Of a Designer, of a Creator?” And once again, he gave a scientific explanation that was totally unsatisfactory to me, but he continued on in his agnostic state. I grieve for people like Carl that miss moments like this. But I also call us, Church, to not only rejoice in a Creator and point people to Jesus through His creation. But that points us to the need to actually be involved in creation care.

You see, the very first instruction that God gave to human beings before we were even created is rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. Interesting that we are given this responsibility to oversee the creation that He has just spent the last days bringing into existence. And as He breathes life into Adam, this is the instruction given: rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air. Now, how do we do that? If you think in terms of ruling as governance policy or control structure, making something do what you command them to do, then rule is a little tough to think of in terms of birds or fish. You might get a dolphin to do a couple of tricks, but we’re not ruling in that sense over every bird that flies or fish that swims. But we can protect them. And is that not one of the primary responsibilities of ruling for any home or church or government or creation, for those in charge of ruling to protect those under their care, to give them the safety and healthy environment for them to thrive? And so it is, I believe, that how do we rule over the birds of the air? Well, one thing we can do is take care of the trees, their habitat. And how do we rule over the fish of the sea? Clean water matters in this world to human thriving and to the thriving of all of God’s creation. Clean water matters. I am sickened by what I’ve seen as I’ve traveled this globe, to see what we’ve done to rivers, and the plastic washing up on beaches.

Now, I know that this isn’t the kind of thing that the president of The Christian and Missionary Alliance normally talks about, and I also know that our priority is the evangelization of the nations starting right in our own communities, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ final words to us are our primary commission for us to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ and to be carriers of that message to people whose souls will be redeemed, whose names will be written in the Book of Life, whose lives will be transformed because of the saving message of Jesus Christ. That is our priority. But we don’t have to neglect the one to complete the other. In fact, I would argue that our taking good care of the creation and having a testimony and witness of that as God’s people actually will enhance, actually will strengthen, our verbal proclamation of the message of Jesus Christ to those around us. They will better see the Creator when they see us taking care of the creation.

When one of my little grandchildren comes to me with an artistic representation of their heart, meaning a piece of construction paper and a marker that they have written my name, Papa, and then drawn some stick figures-friends, it is elementary, rudimentary, the most basic form of art. I can hardly decipher my name and I don’t know which is me in the stick figures and which is the dog, but I love it. Why? Because it’s a gift of love to me in an artistic form. And it’s also an expression of the image of God in that child, because God is the Creator and they are now creating, and so they’re living out the image of God. And so what do I do with that piece of paper? Do I roll it into a ball, scorn the child, and throw it in a fireplace? No, we hang it on a refrigerator and we compliment the child and we have a moment of, “Ah, that’s awesome.” To say it simply, we honor the artist when we honor their work. We honor our divine Creator when we respect His creation.

I have no political agenda in this. I am not on some campaign. I am saying I believe that our Creator has given us a special gift. This fascinating day, called the solar eclipse, points our attention to Him. And I’m asking us, Alliance family, to consider what it is to have creation care and honor of the Creator be part of our life and ministry.

PS-the next time you’re tempted to complain about the rain, maybe instead thank God for caring enough about His creation to give it a drink. And the next time you’re out in the yard or your garden or your flower bed, and there’s some weeds, join all of creation in groaning and waiting for the sons of God to be revealed, because those weeds are an evidence of the fallenness of our state. And my friend Carl, when I was healed of my physical crisis and gave testimony to the healing, Carl came to church that day, had to acknowledge that I had been healed, and then said to me as an agnostic, “The problem with a person in my position is that I have no one to thank at a moment like this.” We have someone to thank. Let’s thank Him, not just with our words and songs, but in our care of what He has given to us.