The Professor vs The Power
Pastor Vince Burke spoke again in church today, and I thought the Lord’s message came at the right time. His sermon was built around a story that some of you might have heard in one way or another. Ever received the email about the atheist professor who used a piece of chalk to “prove” that God didn’t exist?
Well, that version of the story isn’t true.[link] (So please, in the interest of the integrity of the body of Christ, DO NOT FORWARD IT. I don’t want to use a lie to trigger guilt trips in people.)
The true story is that Richard Harvey, a Christian author, witnessed this himself when he was in Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, in the 1920s. The professor was not one of philosophy, but of chemistry. His goal was to prove prayer was useless (not necessarily to prove that God didn’t exist), and the object dropped to “disprove” the power of God was a glass flask instead. And yes, a young man did stand up in his class, prayed in front of 300 people, and the glass flask bounced off the professor’s shoe instead of hitting the ground. He never gave that lecture again. The full, true version of this story as it was originally published–way back in the 70s–is at the bottom of this page[link].
So what was Pastor Vince’s point in telling us this story?
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. — Ephesians 3:20
For the past month or so, I’ve been feeling quite depressed, quite emo as it were, because of problems with certain matters of the heart. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. Add to that all the angst about being in a country that doesn’t seem to want to change, my feeling of being an outcast (even in church) because of my interests and a very careless remark I received (from a student no less) about how I “never really grew up.” (I heard this was after this person saw my collection of D&D miniatures waging war on my desk.) I was feeling inadequate, feeling ridiculed, feeling completely out of place in everything. I just said one little prayer.
“Lord, since the world accuses me of darkness, I can only find comfort in your light.”
And the Lord gave me hope today. Hope that He is at work, hope that He cares, and hope that He can and does work in our lives. All we need to do is ask and keep asking, believing that He will answer us for His own glory. The main verse talked about how God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, far above all that we ask or think–and that He does this for His glory. The redundant adverbs were not an accident–one could almost imagine Paul straining for words as He tried to describe what God was capable of—in the Greek it’s (If I’m not mistaken) huper ex perissos, huper pas he aiteo e noieo. “Huper” there is actually where we get the word “hyper”, and the whole bunch of words is written in such a way that the author seems at a loss as to how to describe what God can do. Let’s just say that He can do anything, including what we can’t imagine.
And so the black and empty feelings I’ve been struggling with for so long have begun to yield. I came to realize that not all life stories are the same–some are comedies and some may be tragedies, but in the end, the Author and Perfecter of our faith always intends them to end for His greater glory. After all, the wise and discerning can still find the beauty in a comedy or in a tragedy.
Your Black Lion