Carl Sagan, in his Cosmos television series about the universe said, “We are star-stuff.” He meant that the atoms that make up our bodies were generated in the nuclear furnaces of stars and that, over billions of years, those stars exploded, cast their products out, and those parts were captured into new stellar systems. In our case, those atoms coalesced into our Sun and planets and, on at least one of those, life arose and through a long series of evolutionary steps, you came into existence.
That’s quite a story!
And if your belief in God is like mine, you believe that this was all part of His plan, that He made the universe and the physical laws that determine how matter, energy and time interact with just this eventuality in mind.
That’s His plan.
When I contemplate just how awesome He must be to conceive of such an intricate creation, I feel infinitesimal. I am such an incredibly tiny fraction of things — in the “I am this much of the universe” number, how many zeroes are there between the decimal point and my first significant digit do you think — and the details of my life are such minutae compared to the interactions of all the atoms in all the space and time of the universe, that I wonder how God is even aware of my existence, much less the details of my life, my day-to-day struggles, or the specifics of what I pray for.
But, in spite of my almost unimaginable insignificance in all this, He does.
He knows, He cares, He listens, He takes the time to consider and plan, and He answers our prayers.
That got me to wondering: How might this work?
I don’t mean the mechanics of prayer and how God interacts with the universe. I know that’s beyond my ability to comprehend. One atom can’t understand the workings of the universe.
But perhaps a collection of atoms can develop an understanding of some of it, of one small area of the universe.
What I’m wondering has to do with God and the size of the universe and, assuming we aren’t the only living creatures in all this vast expanse, how is it that He hear everyone regardless of how far apart we all are in the universe? How does He keep track of all the issues to say nothing of their interactions, sort it all out and decide what to do? How does He figure out which prayers to answer, which need to be deferred, and which get a simple, “No.”
Well, I’ve had an idea in my head for a while. Perhaps it’s similar to one you’ve had, or maybe it’s totally “off the wall.” You can decide what you think but I like it because it puts an amazing number of pieces together. Ideas that seem disjoint all suddenly come together.
Here’s the core of it: We are God-Stuff.
You and me, the Earth on which we walk, the planets, the suns, the constellations and galaxies, the whole universe for all its dimensions of space and time, even the big bang itself are all parts of God.
Let me ask you something.
Do you listen to your body? Do you know when something is wrong with it? Do you take care of a cut finger, a hurt toe, feed a hungry stomach and scratch the itch?
Of course you do, and so does God.
Do you exercise to strengthen your body, to improve your health?
Does God do deep knee bends, jumping jacks, push-ups and lift weights?
Does He work to strengthen His body?
You can bet your life He does!
And do you sometimes do less exercise because something hurts?
Are you an advocate of “No pain, no gain?”
Just how much pain will you tolerate before you stop?
And what about God?
And after you rest and your sore muscles heal, do you try again?
I itch, he scratches.
I hurt, sometimes He stops, sometimes He goes on for a while.
… because sometimes we choose to go hungry for a while, to say “No” to that urge to eat.
… because sometimes God says “No” to our requests; He has a higher goal in mind and knows that, “No pain, no gain.”
Here’s a phrase from the Bible: “Children of God.”
“Child” has several meanings, of course, and in this one we’re not saying God is our biological male or female parent. Instead, we’re saying we are related to, we are connected to, Him. The parent-child relationship is present, is what we mean.
Well, I take care of my physical self just as I assume you do.
We are God-stuff. We are as much a part of Him, if not more so, than your hand, your leg, your stomach, your heart or even your brain that reads and considers these words.
Here’s a statement: “God is infinite.”
Scientists may argue about whether or not the universe is infinite. Indeed, it seems to be pretty much agreed that the universe we know all started with a bang, a Big Bang. All matter, all dimension, all time started then. And scientist’s theorize that if there’s enough dark matter out there to make the expansion stop and a collapse to begin, eventually there will be an end as well. There will ultimately be a anti-Bang.
If that’s true, then the universe as we know it is finite. It has a beginning and an end.
But what caused the Big Bang in the first place? What was before? We can’t know. There’s no way we can find out. But that doesn’t mean there was nothing. It just means the universe as we know it started with the Big Bang and what came before wasn’t our universe and there’s no way for us to know.
And what will happen as a result of the anti-Bang? Again, we can’t know and, whatever it might be, it won’t be our universe.
Do this: breathe in — that’s the expansion.
Now breathe out — that’s the collapse.
The universe, like the filling of your lungs, expands and grows, and then you exhale and it goes back down.
Of course your lungs don’t suddenly appear and disappear in the process, and neither does God. Instead, your body, your lungs contain the space, they house the atoms and molecules and, in time, they don’t.
In, out, Expand, contract.
I know that analogy is a bit weak compared to the Big Bang but hopefully you get the idea. It’s cyclic. It happens again and again. Each mix of molecules inside the lungs is unique, but it is also similar to the mix that was there the last time. Each breath has a beginning and an end, each breath is finite, but God keeps on breathing. He is infinite.
We are God-stuff. The universe is made up of God-stuff.
Every atom, every nano-meter of space, every femto-second of time, is God-Stuff. You, me, the driver of the car that just went past my window, the passengers on the bus headed west on Thunderbird Rd in north Phoenix Arizona in the United States of America in North America on Earth in this solar system, this galaxy, this round of Bang and anti-Bang, all that is God.
God hears my prayers because I am part of God. I am one with Him.
Of course, I am an indescribably small part of Him, that is true. But from the smallest atoms of the universe, from the smallest possible measurement of a tiny unit of space, from the most infinitessimal instant of time to the awesome span of all atoms, all space and all time, we’re all part of God.
And if we’ll all parts of God then it should come as no surprise that each of us can conceive of God, at least to the extent of our local neighborhood and how it seems to work.
Can my finger understand me? No, of course not. But if my finger had a brain, it could recognize that if it sends a “that’s hot” signal, my body will snatch it back from the stove. And in like manner, I cannot understand all of God but because I do have a brain — my wife would say half-a-brain — I do have some understanding of how He is manifest in the reality in which I find myself.
God hears my prayers, I’m sure. He’s answered many of them.
And He has done awesome things in my life for which I never asked, of which I may not even be aware, and which are sometimes for my own good even though they hurt like hell.
When you pray for a miracle, God may cause it to happen.
But you can also do things to cause that same miracle to happen because, after all, you are God. Your hands are God’s. You can make things happen.
He’s big, He’s complicated beyond our ability to understand, but He’s also right here. I can pat Him on the arm. I can shout to Him because He’s all around me. And in ways I cannot hope to understand, He can change the world around me.
And sometimes He does that simply because I ask.
I itch, He scratches.
And sometimes He does that because I try, I push, I pull, I fiddle with it, I work at it.
I itch, and if I scratch that itch, isn’t that really just some of that God-stuff scratching back?
What will you do with your God-stuff today?
Would you like His help in figuring that out?
All you have to do is ask.
He’s right here!