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Volume 14, Issue 3: Virga

Echos of Creation

Matt Whitling

Summer heat waves swam off the hood of our geometry teacher's brown Oldsmobile as the California sun washed the air with a hazy shimmer. Every pore was open and glistening, ties were at ease, the last buzzer of the day had consumed itself in the warmth of the afternoon oppression. Even the brown paint looked glossy and moist. All things seemed to bow down to that bright god who caused darkness. Sweat fled down, people looked to low shady spots for refuge. Sleeves were the only things defiantly rolled up as the teacher headed out of the building and down to his brown car. One student remained in the lot. He was perched bottom-first on the hood of the Olds, feet on the front bumper. The teacher stopped a few feet from his vehicle. "Get your stringy little frame off my car." He was not a man of great stature himself, being only a gracious wink above five feet. He did, however, carry all the brawn, energy, and physique of a good stout coffee mug. The student slipped off the car and stood defiantly in a swirling reflection of chrome and chocolate brown. As the teacher passed to the driver's side, the student cleared his throat and propelled its swarthy contents down onto the glasslike hood. Thump. The music of it all was unmistakably defiant and passionate.

When we consider the multifarious ways in which disrespect, disobedience, and dishonesty can be expressed by a young mind, we simply must be struck by the breadth of the field. Preparing for each particular discipline situation without an overarching paradigm is tactically ridiculous. We see in the Scriptures that we are to pattern the way that we discipline our children after the way God disciplines His (Deut. 8:5, Eph. 5:1). To do this well, we must first know the One we seek to imitate. Simply imitating the way that God deals with His people after they sin, however, ignores any preparation that may have taken place before the transgression occured. Therefore the best foundation for faithful discipline, be it in the home or classroom, is a careful study of the Word of God.
If we are to imitate God accurately, we must begin where He begins, at creation. In the opening pages of Genesis we see God creating—first the world, then man. God creates a world in which He will raise His son, then He creates His son, and places Him in it. A similar pattern is repeated in Genesis 2 when God plants a garden, and then places man in it. As God creates the world, He evaluates and assesses it, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good."
It is clear in all of this that God begins His fatherly duties before He creates His people. God does not create man and then wonder where to put him or what to do with him. God knew and planned for His people even before the foundations of the universe were laid (Eph. 1:4_6). With this in mind He created the "home" that He would place them in. This home was rich with beauty, intricacy, bounty, variety, antithesis, work, music, and fellowship. It was a home or garden of no drab proportions. As the creator of this home, we see God's fingerprints all over. In fact the workmanship of His home speaks so explicitly of this Artisan-Father that even His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made (Rom. 1:20).
The application may seem obvious. Fathers are to imitate God. He is the creator, fathers are sub-creators. God created the world, fathers create their home and its environment. God created Adam, fathers create offspring. Their children are then placed in the "world" they have created. The one relationship is an echo of the other. Fathers must consider what kind of world they have created for their children, and this activity must be understood as something that begins before the children are born. It should be a world rich in blessings: honest laughter, sweet fellowship, good hard work, exquisite feasting, clear commands, and cheerful obedience—but not free from temptation. Forethought and careful evaluation are required. Of course this sort of home-creating is not optional. Every father creates a world for his children, and it makes no difference whether he realizes it or not—the home will be fashioned, and his signature will be at the bottom.
Like God, the attributes of a father can be clearly seen in the world that he makes. Every father paints his home the color of his heart—it is inescapable. Who a man is, dictates the hue that his home will be adorned with. Fathers dictate what kind of music will be played in the house by the tone of voice they use in speaking to their wives. They establish an aroma of exuberant joy and humility in their homes by the way they sing psalms and laugh at their mistakes. A father full of love and mercy wrestles hard and knows how to mix laughter, pain, and tenacity into a heady concoction that his sons drink by the gallon, and the father who is just and kind chastises thoroughly and embraces the broken-hearted. Sub-creators can only be satisfied when we echo God's assessment that, "behold, it is all very good."
Before the young man had time to wipe his zitty chin and bask in his own rebellious noise, he was caught from behind. His right fist was twisted along his back and driven up between his shoulder blades. Warm steel met his oily cheek, and all the world became a vast brown sky. Two dark pigeons could be seen darting across the heavens out of the corner of his eye. All the prior music had ceased to play as though it had been wiped away, and that brown hood shown again like new.

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