“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . .” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 ESV)
Like many librarians, I have had a strong desire for order from my youth. My books, geological samples, biological specimens, and the chemistry lab in my room were precisely arranged. Enthralling were the magnificence of the periodic table, graphs of parametric equations, the golden ratio, and the Fibonacci spiral evident in trees and snails and everything from DNA to spiral galaxies.
All this elegant design reveals the glories of nature, but my heart and mind were in turmoil. God “has put eternity into man’s heart,” a deep desire to know purpose and destiny, yet “he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” I found in science no underlying principle of unity. I discovered that science does not have answers to ultimate questions, and compounding that realization was the devastating knowledge that science is founded on assumptions. My confidence in the laws of nature was disturbed by Heisenbergian uncertainty, and it only got worse from there with particles going in and out of existence.
And why did I, a product of natural causes, feel guilty? At age 22 with my life in shambles and suffering the loss of meaning, I cried out in my alcoholic despair, “God, if there is a God, I can’t stand this wretched existence anymore. Do with me whatever you want; I quit!” Peace flooded my soul and joy filled my heart to overflowing—God is real! In his great love, mercy, and grace through Christ Jesus he makes shattered lives whole and reveals Christ as the architect, creator, and sustainer of the universe.
My earlier preoccupation with natural order had no category for moral order. But just as God designed the physical universe, so also he designed the non-material world, “and God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Sin brought chaos and corruption into the world casting a shadow over all that is good, and the god of this world blinds the mind of natural man so that he cannot see the divine order.
God has a plan for us through all the vicissitudes of life to give us “a future and a hope.” “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” And God “has made everything beautiful in its time.” How rewarding it is to bring order to our professional pursuits; how wonderful to know the builder and ruler of the universe; how glorious to have our hearts and minds in tune with God’s purposes so that “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”
Ron is the library director at Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College in Matthews, NC. and he has been a member of ACL for 46 years.