I’ve heard the creation story a bajillion times. Mind you, that’s a rough estimate, but I’d be surprised if I wasn’t at least in the ballpark with that number.
When you’ve heard something a bajillion times (give or take, say, twelve), you tend to miss stuff when you reread it. You get to a point where you’re not even reading. You’re mentally reciting while scanning cue cards.
So as much as I love Genesis, I have a tendency to skip over the creation story when I read the book. I power through the first few chapters as a formality before digging into the stories I really love.
In the beginning…it was good…it was good…it was good…image of God…you will surely die…you will NOT surely die…you are cursed. Okay, done. Start wrestling God, Jake. That’s when things get really good.
Reading comprehension was never my strong suit, so when I read that way, I miss stuff. And when I read the creation story that way, I miss this verse:
The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
Genesis 2:9a (NIV)
Did you catch that? There’s a little four-word phrase in there that I just love. I’ve always missed it, partially because this comes in a review of creation only a chapter after the original account, and partially because the next sentence introduces the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The verse feels like filler, so I don’t dig into it much.
The phrase that’s finally caught my eye is where the author tells us these trees God put in the garden weren’t just useful. They were pleasing to the eye, too.
God didn’t have to do that. He could have created this world to be purely functional, and that would have been miracle enough. He’d already taken something that was dark and chaotic and made it a place where his creation could thrive. That’s pretty impressive. There was no need for the brilliant green of leaves in the spring, or for the explosion of color that comes with the sunset.
I’m not saying it isn’t cool to look at everything God did to keep us alive. I think it’s incredible that if the Earth wasn’t positioned exactly where it is in relation to the sun, we’d either burn up or freeze. It’s awesome that our atmosphere is the exact right composition of chemicals to keep us alive. For God’s creation to be so functional and practical is reason in itself to inspire worship.
But he also made everything so gosh-darned beautiful.
I think that’s why I’ve always been so drawn to music. It is the perfect definition of a gift. We don’t need it to survive. It serves no practical purpose besides passing the time on road trips. And yet God ordered the universe so that if you get things to vibrate at just the right frequency and rhythm, your system pumps out so much dopamine that you get the chills and a lump in your throat and you break out in such an exaggerated air-guitar solo that the guy next to you suddenly starts thinking this red light has lasted a little too long for his taste. Maybe that last bit is just me, but whatever.
I love that God did that.
God didn’t have to create beauty or pleasure, but he did. I think that says a lot about his nature.
What unnecessary creations are you thankful for today?