“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)
Next week we will, if God permits, return to Bible commentary in the amazing Book of Deuteronomy—(actually ALL Scripture is amazing, as revealed by God’s Holy Spirit). But this week I’m drawn to share a nagging doubt that troubled me all these years, and also the surprising end to that doubt… Decades ago, I was taken first out of atheism and then out of Eastern religious thought, both reflections of my resistance to the Lord. In that process, Creationism surprised me, for I had accepted evolutionary theory. God, through Scripture, became undeniably real, and if the Scripture that speaks of Him is true, then it is ALL true or not at all. The process, this event which changed me, was not simply a decision to “shift gears” and change direction. Instead, what happened may be glimpsed in places like John 15:16, where Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose You.” And that’s precisely what happened. I was spiritually the blind, deaf person who is being given sight and understanding.
As Scripture became ALIVE to me, the words of Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” along with the verses that follow, demanded my attention—Godless evolution was utterly incompatible with the CREATION revealed in Scripture. I had to choose, and God’s Holy Spirit led me to understand that this world we occupy and the bodies we live in are His gifts, His creation. The strong suggestion of Genesis 1 is that all this was done within a much shorter time frame than the billions of years suggested by evolutionary theory. To the concern that light from the most distant galaxies may reach us from more than thirteen billion light years ago, I saw that God does not live in time and space like we do. I accepted with new-found faith that God can and does take something from unthinkable light years ago and reveal it to us right now—that which is far away can be seen presently and everything is more recent than many understand. He is God and He has done it.
But somehow, I became stuck as I wondered how beaches came about. After all, those little grains of sand are simply tiny rocks that, I reasoned, must have come from big rocks which through erosion or similar forces became the basis of most of the world’s beaches. That would take a long time, wouldn’t it? How long would it take for a boulder to turn into sand? It was a long time, and I concluded this was a much older earth than what Scripture seemed to be presenting. That was then, but now I have heard about Surtsey Island, off the coast of Iceland. In the 1950’s Surtsey didn’t exist, except as a volcanic mass under the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Then, according to a number of interesting website accounts, volcanic eruptions began anew and in 1963, over a period of just a few months, Surtsey emerged from the waters and became an island. By 1967, vegetation took hold, birds made it theirs, seals gravitated to it, and even though eroding Atlantic waters have taken some of it back, the place is solidly established as an island where people can walk, or even live, if that’s what they choose to do.
What surprised me most about these on-line articles were the wide sandy beaches of Surtsey. I had been convinced that a beach would take an incredible time to form, and it’s not just the beaches we enjoy today, but several hundred feet below today’s shores, in most of the world, are ancient underwater beaches, far below the continental shelf of today, reflecting a time when ocean levels were lower. It must have taken time to form them as well. I gasped (probably out loud) as I considered the implications of the sandy beaches and pebbles of Surtsey Island. It took only a few months to form those beaches, made of sand and pebbles, created out of the recent volcanic action that took place under the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Geologists who went to the newly formed island had a hard time accepting that the sand of these beaches was only a few months old. It happened though, and it’s time to give new thought to God’s recent creation of—everything.
I understand that a volcano under God’s direction can do whatever He wants it to do, just as He also created everything by a few words He uttered during the days of creation. It has been many decades since I first wondered about the beaches of this world, causing a seed of doubt to exist inside me for many years. But I am in doubt no longer. God created beaches on a brand-new island in just a few months. In a manner of His choosing, He created the world and the universe in a week, and He formed you inside a human being within the space of just a few months. He is God who does whatever He wants, however and whenever He wants to do it.
Atheism is essentially—a religion. Faith is necessary in order for any religious system to draw adherents, and since none of us were present at the time all this started, all who decide how it might have occurred, do so on the basis of faith. Yes there is physical evidence that might be interpreted in a variety of ways, but our decision to pick one of those ways is an act of faith. The atheist concludes in his or her blindness that they see no God and therefore He didn’t do it. We have an extra element in our decision and that is the Word of God. More than our eyes, ears, noses and sense of touch, we have the gift of God’s faith—described this way: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). And further, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith, for those willing to try it, is the gift of sight to the spiritually blind, and especially it is CONTACT with the God who made us.
John the Apostle, like so many others gifted by God through the centuries, was given an extraordinary faith. Such faith is greater than our human limitations, often taking the one so gifted right out of normal time and space, and we find that John on more than one occasion heard and saw the Risen Christ. In Revelation 1:17, he cried out, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me,‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.’” Faith is substantive. Faith can see who and what our eyes cannot see. Faith can hear that which is greater than our ears can normally register and our brains interpret. The Lord is outside everything we have ever imagined and yet He is also here right now, just as He was for John. This was a man, a person like us, somebody who did what we probably would do if the Lord appeared to us—He was terrified and he passed out cold.
Whatever doubts he may have had, whatever “beaches” might have troubled him, they were washed away through faith, God’s gift to that former fisherman turned apostle. He believed in “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), who is greater than our lingering doubts and who will heal our unbelief. It may be instantaneous, or it may be years or decades before God touches and heals that area of unbelief which has troubled us, but keep waiting, for He will do it. We are doubters, He is God, and with just the tiniest bit of courage we are urged to step forward and say, “I believe, I am willing to believe.” He, the Author of our faith, plants faith in the garden of our hearts, and He who began this work will complete it. He will reach through time and space and heal those areas of unbelief we don’t talk about, even to ourselves. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), just as He said.
Father, I believe, I am willing to believe. There are areas of unbelief in me and I bring them to You right now—I want to be healed. Please end my unbelief and bring me emphatically to faith in the Lord. Open Your Word to me, Lord. I am Yours. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.