November 14, 2020

The Oat and the Cross

Ever notice how easy it is over time to acclimate to . . . anything? The troublesome, the wondrous, the mundane, through familiarity become the norm, the accepted, the obvious. More than 40 years ago, the realization—totally surprising and unanticipated—that God existed upended my personal life and overturned my grasp of reality down not only to the quarks and leptons but to whatever they immediately rest on. In contrast, today, God’s existence is the most obvious truth I know.

I’m more certain of God’s existence, in fact, than of my own. After all, I might be only a brain attached to wires in a vat that give me sensations of myself and the world around me. Fine, but the brains, the vats, the wires, none of which created or sustain themselves, ultimately point to something uncreated and upon which all created and contingent finite reality rests.  In other words, God, the One in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).1 Or, as David Bentley Hart expresses it: “In short, all finite things [even brains in vats] are always, in the present, being sustained in existence by conditions that they cannot have supplied for themselves, and that together compose a universe that, as a physical reality, lacks the obviously supernatural power necessary to exist on its own.”

One morning at breakfast I looked at an oat flake, and the reality not only of God’s existence but of His love was so apparent that I feared for the evil ignorance of the human heart that would deny it, replacing the Creator with the idea—backed, we’re told, by reams and reams of peer-reviewed scientific evidence—that the oat and all that made it (a very complex entity) arose by natural means alone. The love revealed in that oat flake and in everything else so tasty and healthy for us that miraculously grows out of the dirt makes not just God’s existence but His love so screamingly obvious that at times I take it—the greatest truth of the universe, God’s love—for granted.

And today, more than 40 years after my first studying it, Daniel 2 remains overwhelming evidence, not only of God’s existence but of His foreknowledge. I defy anyone to explain Daniel 2 (even more so, Daniel 7) apart from the supernatural.

I just finished writing a book, Risen, about the resurrection of Jesus, upon which our faith rests. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The evidence for Christ’s resurrection is so compelling, logical, and solid that it takes a leap of faith, piggy-backed on far-fetched speculation, in order to deny it. And how to explain His resurrection apart from God? You don’t; ergo, God exists.

There’s no resurrection without the cross, and the love that I see even in an oat flake affirms for me a love that would lead the Savior to Calvary. In other words, the reality of God’s love revealed in that humble grain (or in a blueberry, a peach, a rose) hardly needs to be taken on faith because it’s so blatant and in-your-face, which makes the love that I do have to take on faith, the love expressed at Calvary, so much easier to accept. An oat doesn’t prove that Jesus died on the cross (“the cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf”2), but the grain sure helps make it believable.

Though taking me by surprise about 40 years ago, God’s love is so evident to me now that it’s easy to forget just how wonderful it really is.

Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His most recent book is Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity.

1 Bible texts are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright ã 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1940), p. 660.