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No Excuse

July 17, 2003

Ever since God created the world his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all! They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness. (Romans 1:20-21, Good News Bible)

One day (though you couldn't really have called it a day at the time), God decided to make a world.

He formed it out of rock and water and fire, packed it in his hands like a kid making a snowball. It looked pretty unimpressive when he tossed out into the void, spinning like a marble on smooth concrete. "Light," he called, and not even the nightmare primeval darkness could argue with him. That little planet was bathed in the light of heaven itself. Shadows were chased away by this new thing called Day, disappearing until called for again at Night. God smiled. "Good," he said to himself. "Good start."

"I want sky," God ordered, and sky appeared, a barrier against the void that encroached on the little planet. Gazing at the roaring, foaming ocean that govered the little planet, God barked out, "land." Obediently, meekly, without so much as a protest, the mighty ocean receded, shifted, and came to rest where God decreed. All over the little planet dry land was exposed. "Good," God murmured with a smile.

But the bare, exposed rock wasn't enough. "I want life on this planet," God said. "I want plants: grain, fruit, vegetables, flowers." In an instant, the earth's surface was painted with vegetation of every kind and color. The angels gasped when they saw it and broke into applause. "Keep watching," said God with a twinkle in his eye. In no time, the sky of this little planet started to turn the most beautiful blue. The angels stared open-mouthed in amazement. "That's pretty good, isn't it?" God said, delighted. "But wait. It gets better."

God gathered up all the light, compressed it into a hot, gleaming ball, and fastballed it out into space. The spinning planet pulled into a tight ellipse around it. "I call it gravity," God explained. "The side of the planet closest to that Sun out there will be bright and warm." He threw another ball of rock out into space. "That one, the Moon, will reflect the Sun's light so even Night won't be totally dark. With these, they'll be able to tell what time of day or even what time of year it is."

"Who?" the angels asked.

"Just wait," said God.

"This planet needs more life," God said. "I want fish in the seas. I want birds in the air." The angels were amazed at the variety of creatures that were instantly splashing and soaring. The first bird-songs filled the silence. The first whales blew their first plumes of water skyward. "Good, but I want more," God went on, and suddenly there were cows grazing, horses galloping, lions roaring, kangaroos hopping. Bees buzzed from flower to flower. Snakes slithered in the grass. Frogs croaked. Grasshoppers chirped. The angels shook their heads at all the fur, shells, and scales moving around on this tiny little planet. God leaned back, squinted one eye critically. "What do you think?" he asked the dumbfounded angels. "I think it's pretty good. I think it's ready for the finishing touch."

He looked at the angels, staring at him in amazement. "What more could you do?" their eyes asked. "I'm going to make people," God explained. "But not like this. All I've made up to now is for them. This world I've created and set spinning out here in space is just for them."

The angels waited, anxious to hear God speak the words and create these people. God shook his head. "Nope. Can't do it that way. These people can't be made like I made cows and dogs and turnips. I'm going to make them resemble me. I'm going to give them imagination, self-awareness, ambition. I'm going to give them the ability to make choices. I'm going to give them wills." The angels gasped. Wills? But that would mean...

But God was lost in thought. "No," he said, mostly to himself. "This is a custom job." And God stepped onto the little planet he'd just created. As the angels watched, he knelt down and scooped up some dirt from the ground. It soiled his radiant robes, smudged his hands. Then God started to work. He molded the dirt into a form, like a sculptor bent over his clay. He molded organs, muscles, features, extremities. God's own hands toiled painstakingly over this creature. And then he sat back. He looked at it from all angles, and smiled. And then he leaned forward again, until his mouth was next to the mouth of this creature.

And then he exhaled.

Suddenly, the lump of mud on the ground drew in a sharp breath. Color begin to course through him. He drew another breath, and another, and then his eyelids opened. He sat up, and looked at God in wonder. God, beaming, looked at the angels. "Meet Adam," he said. Then he turned back to Adam. He waved his arm in a gesture that took in everything around him. "Welcome home," he said simply.

It was Michael that approached him later, his brow creased with worry. "Mighty One," he began. "I wouldn't think of questioning you. But this human being troubles me."

"Does he now?" said the Creator.

"Lord, you have given him will. Like us. Like yourself. Doesn't that mean that he could choose to..." Michael let his voice trail off, not sure how to even speak of the creature's disobedience to its Creator.

God didn't speak for a long time. He just gazed at Adam, busily exploring the wonders of his new home.

"Yes," he said finally, sadly, still staring at the human. "Yes, Michael. It does."

Michael wanted to ask why. Wanted to know what they were going to do to prevent human beings from rebelling against their Creator. But when he saw the look on God's face, he let the subject drop.

Archangels know when God doesn't want to talk anymore.


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