"The Little Book"
Begin Here, Now: A Review of "The Hole In Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns

The Room of the World

Huge.46.232470While we can't pull back the cloak of eternity and peek behind the "In the beginning, God" of Genesis 1:1, to know all that God has been up to in an eternity past (if "past" is even a meaningful way to address the silence of that eternity), it is not all mystery.  If He is changeless --- if in fact his character is immutable --- then who He is as represented to us in Scripture is who He was even before Creation.  He was the same then as He is now as He will be in the future to come.  He is timeless and changeless.

What a comfort.

Everything else changes.

Yesterday we were blanketed with a nice snow, something not terribly common where I live.  Normal routines are upset, yet in a good way.  Time to clean house!  My wife and I braced ourselves, opened the door to our college-bound son's room (while he was out), and began trying to sift, save, salvage, and (serendipitously) share the memories of his 18 years.  It's all here.  Rare is it that he actually throws things away.  Things mean something to him, as they are visual reminders of interests, memories, and life, rooting him.  Not so in the room across the hall (sibling), where what matters is what is now, where possessions are expendable. 

Buried in a drawer is the carefully organized coin collection of his childhood, each compartment labeled in a child's handwriting, a one-time interest from which he has moved on.  There are Cub Scout Pinewood derby awards, pieces of paper with elaborate train and then aircraft designs, and scores of cassette tapes (that dates him), CDs, and books of stories.  We discovered unopened gifts from Christmas gone by, models, bead work, knitting paraphernalia, and more.  Underneath a pile of miscellany is a wooden desk we sometimes forget is the small desk at which he sat in childhood.  To work in his room is to discover a life, to see what interested him, what occupied his time.  It is to discover him.  And as he moves on with life, it's a comfort to know that the child he was he in essence remains, is what he is and will be --- that while he will grow and mature, he will not, even for eternity, be someone else, be someone we do not recognize.   Coming to faith, we may be new creations thank God but, in the end, we are not different persons --- the essence of our personality, as deep and mysterious as that might be, remains, even for eternity.

What a comfort.

Everything else changes.

Cleaning that room yesterday was an exercise of stewardly care for what my son imagined, created, and did for 18 years.  I might not have said it then, but ask me now and I might say, in the words of Genesis 2:15, that I was tilling and keeping creation --- his creation, the room of his world, the outpouring of his life.  I had no right to destroy anything, just rearrange, properly care for, and take care of what he had. OK, so I did throw away the broken plastic airplane, an agonizing decision that had to be made jointly by my wife and I.  But mostly, we need to ask him about what we do, do our best to cultivate the life he gave the room, and help it be a place that becomes more of what he already is.  Rightly understood, we're making it a place that better glorifies him, not in the sense that we worship him or stroke his ego, but in the sense that it better reflects the person God made him to be.

Never knew people could think so deeply about cleaning a room, did you?  It was a snow day.  I had time on my hands.  Idle thoughts are fertile ground for philosophizing, you know.

Sometimes we act as if we own the world. We don't.  The bright red cardinal that just landed on the snow outside my window was dreamed up by God, created for His glory, and exists to glorify him, to, if nothing else, be enjoyed by him.  The snow that fell has been a beautiful playground for many kids and even many more adults.  But it's enough that He enjoyed it.  Everything matters like that.  It's His stuff, not ours.  We can enjoy it, stand in awe at the mind that dreamed it up and molded and shaped it, grumble at its messiness and the clutter of a Person who never stops imagining, creating, recreating, tearing down, preserving, scribbling, drawing, and telling us. . . telling us every day that He loves the world, that He loves what he made, and who will one day put all things right --- will rearrange, reorder, renew, and even resurrect it all.  It is, after all, His room.

What a comfort.

But my son is not Him, of course, is good but not all good like Him, naturally, and this room is not the world, after all, so full of distractions and half-realized or poorly-tended creations.  Right now, I need to know what to do with all these old baseball cards, this book full of cut outs of vacuum cleaners (an old fascination), and the rock polishing set, for starters. I haven't even dared look under the bed.

Everything changes, but not my son, and certainly not God.  They're timeless, eternal.  And while my son's room just gets bigger next year along with his dreams, his creations, and his messes, the One who dreamed him up will just keep remaking him into more of who he really is or is meant to be, into more my son.

And that really is a comfort to me. Today, looking around his cluttered room, that gives me hope --- for his room and the room of this world.