On Tuesday, I have a new book coming out. It is not what most people would expect from me. It has nothing to do with politics. Last year, on the same day doctors from the Mayo Clinic called my wife to tell her they thought she had lung cancer, doctors were admitting me to an ICU unit not sure I would live. Blood clots were filling up my lungs. Believe it or not, politics becomes rather meaningless at that moment. I really started wondering what I would want my children to know about God, family, and life. What started as column turned into a book that is part confession and part cookbook. Before You Wake is available Tuesday. An excerpt of the seventh chapter is below.
Few things are as terrifying as the realization that the clock is ticking on how we raise our children. Will they be good? Will they love God? Will they fall away from the values we teach them? Will they be kind? There is a reason people do not get gray hair until they have kids. But then they have kids and the next thing you know, those kids are driving. Thankfully Evelyn and Gunnar are not there yet, but it is coming sooner than we realize, sooner than we want, and sometimes not soon enough.
Evelyn and Gunnar may be the subject of Christy’s and my affection, but they need to know how insignificant they are in the universe to appreciate their significance. There are more than seven billion people on the blue orb of life that circles the giant ball of plasma that is the sun. There are nine planets, including Pluto, countless moons, asteroids, and objects at the outer edge of the solar system. Beyond is the Milky Way, with hundreds of billions more stars and countless other planets, comets, and space debris. But the Milky Way is just one of a seemingly infinite number of galaxies with a seemingly infinite number of stars in a vast expanse of space so large we cannot see it all. And it is all drifting steadily, farther apart.
The vastness of space is only paralleled by the vastness of our imagination to conjure up ideas about what is out there, but that sometimes makes us forget about what is already here. Some people look up at the night sky and see a random act of cosmic chance. I look up at the night sky and see the handiwork of our Creator.
God is real. I am convinced of it. No amount of scientific testing or explaining away of miracles can make me think otherwise. I do not expect that I can convince anyone who does not want to believe. It’s like Graham’s number. Ronald Graham “discovered” the number now named after him. I cannot write it out for you. Every atom of every particle of every object of every substance in the entire universe could be called up and used to write out Graham’s number and it would still not be enough. The number is so large it cannot fit in the entire observable universe. But it is a real number. Add one to it and the number grows even larger. Multiply it by two and it grows larger still to a number now double the size of a number that cannot even be contained in the known universe, but real nonetheless. I would not expect that we could contain God in a universe of his own creation when math itself spills over the boundaries of the universe.
The orderly proposition of a mathematics that can explain the universe seems to bely a cosmic music that reveals order instead of chaotic randomness. As others have noted, when you work your brain back to the other side of the big bang and consider that there must have been something that gave rise to an explosion of unfathomable energy creating a universe, galaxies, a solar system with planets, and a planet with us on it—well, that something begins to look a lot like a god.
The God I believe in and raise Gunnar and Evelyn to believe in is the God of all creation. In the book of Jonah, the prophet boarded a ship of pagans to run away from the God I worship. When a great storm came up, the pagans cast lots and the lot fell to Jonah. All the pagans had gods. They had different gods. They questioned Jonah about his god. “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you? And he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land’” (Jonah 1:7–9). His was not the god of wind or thunder. His was not the god of the sea or rivers or land. His was the God of it all. That is my God, too. His existence explains to me why we have something rather than nothing.