Lisa and I went to the marvelous Sistine Chapel exhibit over in west Charlotte recently. We’re lucky to have visited the real Sistine Chapel in Rome. But this exhibit dazzles: instead of squinting to see a fresco 68 feet above your head, you can walk right up to a life-sized reproduction. The details amaze. The glory is palpable.
I love Michelangelo’s vision of the moment in creation when “God separated the waters from the dry land” (Genesis 1:9). A geologist might explain how this process – which continues to this day! – unfolded over billions of years. Michelangelo’s God certainly looks calm, patient, powerful yet gentle. The boundary between land and sea is beautiful, and dangerous. Such is God’s world.
Psalm 33 declares the following as good cause for rejoicing, praise, singing, and living a righteous life: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle, he put the deeps in storehouses.” How good of God to be sure the waters and dry land generally kept to their own places, or we’d all drown, plod about in the mud, mired in a swirling bog. I love to stare at the ocean, at that boundary God established (even as it’s eroding!), and reflect on just how much water is out there. Mind-boggling. The Psalmist says that, to God, it’s as simple and manageable as you filling a bottle with water from the tap. So great, so powerful, so good is our God.
The shoreline isn’t just a photo op, a national border, or a junction for shipping and business. It’s a testimony to God’s mercy. Watch municipalities and states trying to manage shorelines, bulldozing the sand, setting up barriers. Perhaps nowhere else do we experience how small and helpless we are before the gargantuan forces of nature. You can’t control the sea or the shore, and you could never have made either or both in a few billion years. God. God. God is great. God is good.
Michelangelo’s God: I gaze gratefully at God’s open palms, extended not merely in creating, but also in blessing. There’s a place for the seas and the dry land, and there’s a place for me, and you, the recipients of God’s blessing. God’s eyes seem closed – as if God is praying – to God! – for the world, for you, me, and all the others. I’ll look at this fresco some more, and read Psalm 33, and find good cause for praise, rejoicing, song, awe, and trust.← See All