Friday, January 1, 2010

The Fingerprints of God

Sometimes a fast trip through a museum can teach us as much as a long, lingering visit. Last week I went to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. With only one day on the schedule for this stop, I had to make every moment count.

I looked over the museum map after buying my ticket and found the nearest employee. "How long will it take to go through the whole museum?"

Without looking up, she said, "A month if you want to see every item." She obviously got this question often.

The urge to meet the challenge took over. Checking my watch, I started off at a fast pace, wishing for roller blades. I wanted to see it all. My husband and teens were left in the dust.

The next seven hours found me stepping through the panorama of history. Every continent on earth was represented with ancient pottery, musical instruments, jewelery, weapons and all manner of cultural items.

There is something clarifying about seeing it all quickly. Artifacts began to blur together but the similarities raised questions. How is it that every culture discovered how music works? Stringed, percussion and wind instruments were prevalent on every continent in every ancient culture. They were made of whatever animal or plant parts were available but the science behind the music was the same.

Beautiful and intricate artwork abounded on pottery, jewelery, clothing and even weapons. What is that drive in every people group that longs for beauty? Engineering degrees may not have existed back then but the science of engineering was evident in agriculture and building. Where did they learn this?

Religious worship or appeasement was evidenced in many forms in each of the ancient cultures. Nature worship was prevalent as early citizens of the Earth sought to understand the forces of weather and the displays in the heavens.

I couldn't help but call to mind some favorite verses. In Acts 17, Paul stumbles upon a pagan monument of worship in Athens, Greece and has this to say:

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He is not served by human hands... because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
For in him we live and move and have our being.

The creative nature of man came through in every ancient culture. This is not surprising when we consider that God created men and women in his own image and he is the original creator. His first act in Genesis is creation--and God created the heavens and the earth. He created plants, animals and finally man--in his own image. God the creator created creative people.

So, I found God in the New York Museum of Natural History. At least His fingerprints were everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. Rhodema- I just wanted you to know that reading Paul's words in the context of what you wrote has inspired me to pick up my guitar and worship. Now that's a high compliment to your writing, I believe! Very beautiful post- thanks for writing it!



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