By Doug Beacham
A few years ago I read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” I have long admired the 72 year old physicist, who in spite of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, has continued to think creatively.
Before I proceed, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I did not understand much of what Hawking wrote. In fact, anyone reading this who taught me in high school or college has probably fallen on the floor laughing at the very thought of me understanding such a book. I am painfully aware that any time I see an equation with an ‘x’ or ‘y,’ my brain immediately goes into shock at the absence of real numbers. With that acknowledged, I proceed.
Recently, in an article posted on nature.com, Hawking wrote that he had changed his mind about black holes. It has been thought that a black hole is a place in space where gravity prohibits anything from escaping. There is an “event horizon” that is like a tipping point; once you cross over that line, there is no return.
Now, Hawking has changed his mind about some of this. Black holes are not what they were once thought to be and in light of quantum mechanics, some things can escape from black holes. The “event horizon” may not be as permanent as once thought. At this point my mental “event horizon” has come to an abrupt conclusion regarding how these theories operate. However, his comments have led me in other directions.
First, though I admire and appreciate the work of scientists like Hawking who attempt to comprehend this universe, I cannot help but find myself going back to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created . . . .” The wisest people on earth still only have theories that change according to new information. I applaud that study and exploration! But I find true meaning and certainty in what God has said.
Second, I know a lot of people who feel trapped in the black holes of life. I have felt that way myself. The weight, the gravity, of our actions pull us down into a spiritual, emotional, psychological, and even physical place where we think and feel that there is no hope, no light, no recovery. Those spiritual black holes are terrible places. In there it is dark, full of grief, regret, self-loathing, remorse, worthlessness, and finally death.
When the apostle Paul penned “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) he wasn’t just writing abstract theology. He knew from personal experience and observation the horrible reality of living by the “law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). There are “event horizons” that push us over the edge. They are the sinful decisions we make in rebellion to God. They come from the false gods of our times expressed by 1 John 2:16, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”
Our “event horizons” do not come without warnings. Our conscience calls out to us; others warn us of the consequences of our actions; many know the clear statements of the Bible; yet our fallen nature leads us to violate God’s moral laws.
But there is Good News in the message and life of Jesus the Son of God. His light can penetrate the dark holes of our sin-made condition. His life is greater than the darkness of death. His mercy extends to us when we feel we have no hope. It is when we are most loathsome to ourselves, that He is most merciful to us. Jesus is a “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Hebrews 2:17).
I don’t understand quantum mechanics and stellar physics and theories. There is no way I can personally experience what it is like on the outer edges of the universe. I don’t even understand the mercy and grace of God. But by faith in Jesus Christ I can experience life and hope that comes from beyond the outer edges of our universe and reaches the darkest holes of my life.
Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” has these opening lines, “In every heart there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong, to heal the wounds from lovers past, until a new one comes along.” Our lovers from the past: broken relationships, misplaced commitments, destructive affections, the false gods of our world, they liter the rooms of our spirit. We need a sanctuary, safe and strong, made by the One Lover who comes along and heals our wounds. Jesus is that One Lover who has crossed the event horizons of our sinful decisions and brought light to our darkness.