God's Two Poems
Typically, people think science and miracles are at odds. That’s what I once thought. But in fact, it’s only within the regularity of science that God can reveal Himself to us miraculously. It is science that makes miracles possible. It’s only because scientifically virgins don’t get pregnant that God can reveal Himself in a virgin birth. It’s only because scientifically people don’t rise from the dead that God can reveal Himself through a resurrection. And likewise, God can reveal Himself in each of our lives.
The more I talk with people, the more convinced I am that the experience of miracles is universal. I like asking people, even the most scientific of people, “Have you ever had an experience that made you think there might be a God?” Usually there is an awkward lull and then some nervous laughter, but, if you wait long enough, almost without fail the person will say, “Well, there was this one time when…” And then they will tell you a remarkable story that has God’s signature all over it!
Most of the people I speak to have amazing stories, but they’re worried that they are the only one. They’re worried that others will think they’re weird. They start to wonder if maybe it’s all just in their heads. We need to share our stories, and we need to invite others to share their stories as well.
Joan Miro, Poema I, mixed media, 1968.
Here’s a story of seeing God’s finely tuned design in an individual life. A student from China showed up at a university open forum where I was speaking. One of my colleagues, Daniel, greeted her, and she said her name was “Alva.” My colleague replied, “That’s an interesting name; what does it mean?” Alva responded, “It means ‘by grace washed white as snow.’”
Daniel’s eyes went wide, and he asked Alva if she was a Christian. She said, “No, not at all.” Daniel said, “Do you realize that your name is basically the heart of the Christian message?” She had no idea; she had just chosen this for her English name because she liked the sound of it.
Daniel began to explain the Christian message to her, and she was increasingly being drawn to God. Then the talk started, and halfway through the talk I quoted and put up on a PowerPoint slide, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Daniel excitedly tapped the shoulder of Alva, who looked astonished and said, “I told you; that’s your name!”
At the end of the talk, Daniel and another of our colleagues continued to explain to Alva the love that God has for her and the sacrifice that God made for her. Alva decided she wanted to be a Christian, and my friends had the supreme privilege of praying with her to affirm that commitment.
There is one more detail to the story that fills me with awe. My talk for that night was already typed and printed before the week began, and the PowerPoint was done. But at lunchtime of that same day, my wife, Jo, and I had a distinct sense that something was missing from the talk. So we rushed home after a lunchtime event, and we added just one additional handwritten page to the talk and just one additional PowerPoint slide.
What did that slide read? Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” God beautifully crafted all the details of that day so Christ could reach out to that one young woman named Alva.
There are two things in the Bible that are spoken of as God’s poem. First, Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” The Greek word for “what has been made” is poiemasin, from which we get the word poem. God’s creation is the poem of God.
Second, there is Ephesians 2:8–10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” For we are God’s “handiwork.” Another translation says we are God's “masterpiece,” and this is the same word—poiema.
God not only designed the universe; God designed Alva and named her, and God has plans for her life as carefully fine-tuned as God's plan for the cosmos. The same is true of each of us.
Vince Vitale is director of the Zacharias Institute at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Greatest Story Ever Told, June 1, 2018 at the Zacharias Institute
Join Ravi Zacharias and a unique team of speakers and artists on June 1 at the RZIM Headquarters as we consider what it means that the gospel is a story: a true story that God tells and calls us into, one that has been told for centuries and continues to be told in ways we sometimes overlook.
At this event, you will experience this story of the gospel anew through multiple forms of art form from short story to spoken word. We invite you to step deeper into God’s story in order to further inhabit the good news we profess in everything we say and do.