“I do words; not math or science.”
I’ve said that for as long as I can remember. It was true, and I thought my little quip was cute. I had that part of my life figured out. It was in a box, tied with a bow. No need to open. Let’s move on.
Words were enough for me. I’d get all goosebumpy thinking about the Word becoming flesh and how that connected me and my writing to Jesus somehow. If I’m honest about it, I guess I believed word people were superior to math and science people.
That’s not to say I didn’t respect math and science people. I did. I do! I need math and science people to help me with my taxes and figure out which medicines will help me fight off the latest virus. Please forgive me, math and science people. It was like Downton Abbey, with the word people upstairs and the math and science people downstairs, waiting for me to ring the bell and call them into service.
Lately, however, I’ve felt a gentle tugging at the neatly tied bow on my tightly shut box. I’ve noticed my witty proclamation about “doing words” losing its appeal as it rolled off my lips and landed with a thud in the middle of the room. There’s a good chance that remark has always been a dud, and it’s simply taken me this long to realize it.
I’m going out on a limb here, but I don’t think I’m alone. Math and science are not the only things that get put in a box because we think we’ve figured them out, thank you very much. The problem is, once I’ve figured something out and tucked it away, I am confident God thinks just like me about that thing. But God is bigger than any of my little boxes, and as soon as I think he’s not, I’ve misinterpreted the seating assignments.
Last night, I watched the live stream of the first installment of Darkwood Brew‘s new series, Evolving Universe, Evolving Faith. It’s about science. And faith. Right in the beginning, they used the word “numinous” and I nearly threw in the towel right there. But I didn’t. I looked up the word and I hung in there. I’m glad I kept watching, because Rev. Chris Alexander said something like this:
Sometimes we get overwhelmed, thinking we’re one drop in a giant ocean. We wonder if we matter and what difference we can make. But what if we’re the entire ocean in one drop?
I notice a shift taking place in me. It feels like something’s waking up and stretching its wings, finding itself constrained by the lid on the box. I wonder if this is how it felt during periods in history when old ideas were re-examined and found wanting. New ideas, once considered ridiculous, became okay to discuss and even consider. Even in church. Slaves were freed, women got the vote, segregation was outlawed, and I think we’d all agree those choices were good.
I’m letting math and science out of the box. Not because I understand them but because, without them, I’ve got God right where I want him: explainable, manageable, and thinking just like me. Without math and science, I’ve reduced God to a drop in the ocean of my own imagination.
What about you? Do you do math and science? What do you need to let out of the box?
Faith and science resources, recommended in last night’s program: