January 28, 2019
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
From Our “Here”…
Turns out, you’re never really alone. None of us are. We’re all a bunch of walking, talking planets to a staggering population of microlife. Consider these stats about Planet You, courtesy of the L.A. Times.
19: Average area in square feet of skin on a typical person
1,000: Approximate number of species of bacteria recovered from the skin of a typical volunteer in a recent National Institutes of Health study
115 million: Dollars to be spent on NIH’s Human Microbiome Project, which aims to catalog the bacteria and other organisms naturally inhabiting humans, both internally and externally
100 billion: Estimated number of bacteria living on a typical person’s skin
While we’re all busily washing our hands with antibacterial soap to ward off E. coli., or chugging antibiotics to fight our latest sinus infection, we’re not even close to ridding ourselves of all of our tiny inhabitants.
And we shouldn’t want to. As the Times article notes by way of Noah Fierer, a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who has analyzed bacteria that live on hands: “You don’t want to live in a sterile world. You probably can’t live in a sterile world.”
It’s true, there are plenty of illnesses we contract thanks to some of the more unpleasant bacterial species we host. But the great majority of bacteria carry out life cycles that benefit our own. Something as basic as digestion would be all but impossible without several pounds of these microscopic creatures lining our insides.
By all means, we should keep washing our hands. And people around us will appreciate our choice to bathe or shower regularly. We just need to remember we’re never going to be bacteria-free.
…To God’s “There”
Creation is far more complex than anyone can fathom. Our Creator, though as invisible as any bacterium to the unaided eye, is present throughout this universe at every conceivable scale. Just as we can’t escape the presence of the tiniest living creatures, we’re never going to escape the God who made them. The Psalmist took comfort in that reality.
And yet, billions of people around the world have either a very flawed image of God or no concept of Him at all. They look to false religions, local superstition, or secularist denial to describe their view.
AGWM missionaries seek to become the presence of Jesus, build relationships with people of radically diverse opinions, and inject the truth of the gospel into this mix of worldviews.
Making the Leap
It is reassuring whenever we encounter reminders of God’s presence in the unusual corners of life. Each of us has been given Jesus’ mandate to declare such truth far and wide. As you pray for missionaries already serving around the world, remain open yourself to the call of God to join their ranks.