Guest / Limited Access /

I once heard pastor-scholar Eugene Peterson reminisce about an eccentric woman named Sister Lychen. Almost every week, in the church of Peterson's childhood—which encouraged words of prophecy—this frail old woman would stand up and say something like this: "The Lord has revealed that I will not see death before the Lord himself returns in glory to catch me up to meet him in the air."

One day, to Eugene's dismay, his mother asked him to take some homemade cookies to Sister Lychen's house. Trembling, Eugene knocked on the door. Sister Lychen herself, with pale, veiny skin and a bony face, invited him in to share the cookies. She served him a glass of milk, and the little boy nervously ate his cookies in near total darkness—Sister Lychen kept her blinds drawn all day long.

Later, Peterson said, he had a fantasy. He saw himself rushing into Sister Lychen's home and yanking open all the blinds. "Look outside!" he cried. "See, there's an aspen tree, and an osprey on the top branch! And a white-tailed deer. Sister Lychen, there's a whole good world outside!"

It was this whole good world outside as much as anything that brought me back to Christian faith. I emerged from childhood with a distorted image of God: a frowning Supercop looking to squash anyone who might be having a good time. I have since come to know God as a whimsical artist who fills the world with creatures like the porcupine and skunk and warthog, who lavishes the world with wildflowers and tropical fish more beautiful than any design on display in an art museum.

Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project, sees God's hand in the magnificent coding of the DNA double helix. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard sees it in the creatures ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July
More from this IssueJuly 2009
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Does Global Christianity Equal American Christianity?
Historian Mark Noll talks about how U.S. missionaries have—and have not—shaped the faith in other nations.
RecommendedThe Church at Its Racial Turning Point
The Church at Its Racial Turning Point
Five ways forward after the recent tragic events.
TrendingDied: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Died: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Jerry B. Jenkins: 'Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul.'
Editor's PickIs There a Better Way to Fight 'Political Correctness'?
Is There a Better Way to Fight 'Political Correctness'?
When language is a tool for coercion, nobody wins.
Christianity Today
A Whole Good World Outside
hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.