Finding my voice
This year has been a refiner's fire, and that fire burned hot. No surprises there. Between COVID-19, the bizarre reactions to the pandemic, cancelling everything that our ministry was planning, trying to teach from home for an entire quarter, race riots, friends dying or in danger, an absolutely insane election season, and other traumas I've already forgotten, I'm flat out exhausted.
Oddly, I'm also grateful for the reset. When I was younger, I used to be very involved in music at church, believe it or not. I used to sing a lot, but when I came to Tennessee to work at the Center for Origins Research (now Core Academy), I made the conscious choice to retire from that side of my personal ministry to focus on creation research. I thought at the time that my calling was to creation research and not to other ministry outlets (like singing or teaching Sunday school). So for about 17 years, that's what I've done. Just the scientific side of things. Nothing else.
Then along came 2020 and completely sidelined me from all my big plans. Oh sure, we've got projects continuing as always, but this year really knocked me down. We were planning to go to Africa! We were going to visit hominin fossil sites. Our Sanders Scholars were going to do great things as well. Most of that didn't happen, and I was sort of left alone in my quiet little office (well, quiet when the train's not going by).
In the silence of my office as I struggled with 2020's griefs, I started listening to music again, something I haven't really done in two decades. At first, it was just piano instrumentals, but then I started looking up those songs I loved back in the 90s. What an experience that was! Like a still, small voice after the whirlwind.
I'm not sure what all to make of this peculiar season of life, since I'm still living it, but one thing I've noticed. I feel like I've been affirmed in something that I've wanted to make central to Core Academy's mission. Creation ministry cannot simply be about doing research into hominin fossils or radiometric dating or cosmogony. Creation ministry - all ministry - must be about the shared life of discipleship, of following Jesus, both inviting others to join us and encouraging those already on the journey. Following Jesus is something we do with our whole selves, though, not just with our science. Rediscovering the passion and beauty of artistic expressions like music has in some sense reinvigorated my own journey as Jesus' disciple.
For the past year or two, I've been struggling with this weird urge. I've really wanted to write something biblical, something like a Genesis commentary or even a new sort of hexameron, a commentary on the six days of creation. Despite my urge to do this, I knew I could never make it happen. I'm not remotely qualified to comment on scripture. Anything I produced would be a sad excuse for biblical scholarship.
But suddenly, in the sidelined silence of 2020, as I lamented to the Lord, listened to old songs of discipleship, and tried to figure out my place in God's plan, I suddenly had a thought. What if I didn't write a commentary? What if I wrote an anti-commentary? What if I wrote a series of devotionals on Genesis? What if I tried to help fellow followers of Jesus to find deeper meaning in Genesis than any commentary or creation research could ever do?
In that silence, with that idea, I found my voice again, and the words just gushed out.
So here's my first installation on what I hope will be a book, as the Lord sustains my creativity. This first booklet is called Day by Day: Meditations on the Days of Creation. It's short, just 40 pages, with seven new essays, one for each day of creation. It's very much in the same style as the Adoremus essays that I included in The Quest. While I continue writing more meditations on Genesis, Core Academy is giving these booklets away with donations of $10 through the end of the year.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still really jazzed about creation research and immensely grateful for the opportunity to study God's works. But I also love God's Word, and I'm happy to be able to share that with people too. Maybe if you can't get excited about baraminology or Australopithecus or Olduvai Gorge, you might get excited about this.
Will I ever sing again? My voice is old and creaky now, but never say never.
Get your copy of Day by Day at Core Academy.
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com. If you enjoyed this article, please consider a contribution to Core Academy of Science. Thank you.
Have you read my book? You should check that out too!