Many years ago when living in Vermont, we took a vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine & Acadia National Park. One of the boasts of the area is that, if you’re at the top of Cadillac Mtn at sunrise, you’ll be the first to see it in the United States. So…got up one morning at 4:30 to drive to the summit. Darkness was just giving way to a very pale light when we arrived. A couple dozen others were there, too, to witness the sun breaking the horizon. Slowly the sky lightened, changing into an array of colors in the process…shades of purple…pink…orange…then it happened! A tiny speck of bright orange crept above the horizon. Quickly the shades of color changed, some becoming more intense, others faded. Then half the flaming ball appeared. In a matter of seconds, the entire orb rose above the line where sea & sky met. Another spectacular sunrise! Before long, the brilliant array of colors dissipated, and the sky appeared as it usually did when opened the curtains at 6:30 on a summer morning.
We had a similar experience ten years later on a trip to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. They too boast of spectacular sunrises over the Atlantic. Again, we got up early and walked to the beach in pale light…arriving just as the colors in the sky were beginning their stunning display. The clouds were plentiful, but not enough to eclipse a brilliant sunrise. And we were not disappointed. It was as if the entire sky was ablaze! Fiery red-orange clouds dazzled us! But again, in the process of another day dawning, the colors gradually drained from the clouds, yielding to various shades of white. If you stay long enough in that setting, it’s an amazing process to witness—from the first hint of light to white puffy clouds suspended in blue sky and the white-yellow sun warming the day.
But 400 miles west, the process was just beginning. And in Chicago, it was still dark. The process was an hour away yet. And as you think about it, you realize that the process is an ongoing one—at any given minute of the day, it’s sunrise somewhere…and sunset somewhere else. A never-ending process until…
The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.— Revelation 21:23
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.— Revelation 22:5
Then the process will be complete! In the meantime, the process repeats itself day after day after day….
In a book that will be the subject of my next Book Musing, Finding God in the Ordinary, Pierce Taylor Hibbs stimulated my thinking in this direction in the chapter “From Dawn to Daylight.” It was in meditating on this chapter that the truth dawned on me: the Lord loves the process!
Isn’t this evident in the opening pages of the Bible where the curtain is drawn back, and we’re given a glimpse of the origins of the universe? Clearly, God is presented on page one as possessing infinite power and wisdom. He said, “Let light exist. And there was light.” Boom. Just like that. He didn’t even do anything but will it into existence. And there it was. Light. That was Day One.
Then came Day Two, and He divided the waters.
Then came Day Three. He made land appear. He made plants of all kinds appear, and each came ready-made with seeds for the next generation of plants.
Then came Day Four. He spoke the stars, moons, and planets into existence.
Then came Day Five. He willed aquatic and aviary life into being. Instantly fish began swimming in the sea and birds flew in the sky.
Then came Day Six. He spoke the word, and all land animals and insects appeared out of nowhere. On this last day of creative work, He also made man. Before the sun set that day, God evaluated His creative work and deemed it all “very good.”
Ok, so that’s the record of what God did. Now think about what He didn’t do and you’ll catch my drift.
In His infinite, eternal, omniscient mind, God already had the vision of the close of Day Six before Day One. And had He chosen to do so, the entire project could have been done the moment He uttered the first word bringing matter into existence.
Instead, He employed a process and began a universe of processes. For example, the creative work itself was a process of six days. At the very beginning, He established the process of a light and dark cycle—day itself—that would be marked eventually by sunrises and sunsets. On the third day, He established everything necessary for the process of the procreation of plant life. Plants had seeds in them. They would eventually fall to the ground, germinate, sprout, gradually grow into maturity, bear fruit, and begin the process all over again.
And when it came time to create mankind, God chose to use a process. Rather than merely speaking Adam into existence, He took dust from the ground, formed it into a particular shape, then infused life-giving breath from Himself. A process. Likewise with Eve. Gives Adam a sedative…removes a rib…forms a woman…introduces the two and performs the first wedding ceremony. Quite an exciting process, especially if you’re Adam!
Now here’s the thing. All of this was intentional. God could have willed all of this into existence and it would have instantaneously appeared in full completion. Instead, He chose to use processes.
Stay with me over the next few weeks and we’ll trace God’s use of “process.” Eventually I’ll draw some conclusions that hopefully will benefit us as we ourselves go through some seemingly endless processes in life.