One of the most challenging ideas for intellects, philosophers, academics, scientists, and humans, in general, is how God can be three in one. This is of course after many have such trouble getting their heads around a living and loving God in the first place. We are indeed blessed and fortunate to have Pastor Brian deliver the weekend message unpacking the Holy Trinity. His most excellent exposition is not to be missed and it is posted on our GateWay Church of Visalia website. Pastor Brian’s words had me thinking about the Trinity but in my “rabbit trail” sort of way. Here are my thoughts as they came while I lay in sleepless recovery from surgery.
I love cooking and exploring different menus and recipes so my mind leaped to the “holy trinity” of Cajun cuisine. Onions, celery and green pepper will be found in many dishes from the Louisiana Bayou. Soon I was driving my Chevy to the levy and pondering the “day the music died.” In 1971 Don Mc Clean wrote in American Pie, his complex song on the downward direction of the American dream: “And the three men I admire most The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. They caught the last train for the coast. The day the music died.” Mc Clean’s “trinity” was Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper – J.P. Richardson who perished in a light-plane crash and in his mind, American music would never be the same. Finally, I came to rest on Carrie-Anne Moss’ character in the first Matrix film. She was the ultra-tough, skilled and deep thinking warrior named Trinity in this dystopian tale of revolution in a world of fully controlled and manipulated beings. I land here because, in one scene of the movie, the protagonist, Neo, portrayed by Keanu Reeves is asked to make the ultimate choice by Laurence Fishburne, Morpheus. He says to Neo, “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” I invite you to read further and take my red pill and follow me down a different Holy Trinity path, a path of science, metaphor, spirituality, and relationship all involving water.
Water is an amazing substance. Virtually everyone knows it is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom - H2O. Water is the basic element of all living things on Earth and without it, there is no life. The “holy grail” of space exploration is to find water on other planets or celestial objects away from Earth. Approximately ¾ of our planet is covered with water and the heating and cooling of these global waters by the sun cycle govern life. We all know as water is heated to boiling it becomes steam and when it is sufficiently cooled it turns to ice. Most materials, be they solid, liquid or gas abide by the “rule” that as it is heated its size or volume expands and as it cools it contracts or shrinks. That is why Consumers are told to buy gasoline when it is cooler or cold since the gasoline molecules are more tightly packed resulting in getting more energy into the same measured volume, thus, saving money. Back to water; have you ever wondered why ice cubes float in your soda, ice tea or glass of water?
Water possesses a unique quality among all of the earth’s substances. When the temperature of water is lowered toward its freezing point, the water molecules huddle closer together like any other substance. The molecules of all substances are searching for the most efficient shape or best ways to pack closely together (shrinking) as the temperature approach its freezing point. But when water reaches 4 ̊Celsius or 39.2 ̊Fahrenheit, water starts to expand. The “Mickey Mouse” molecular configuration of the hydrogen atoms ears and oxygen atom find their most efficient huddle in a manner that creates more space in between the molecules. At 0 ̊ Celsius or 32 ̊ Fahrenheit water is approximately 4 % larger in volume as ice than as a liquid. Therefore, the same amount of H2O is less dense as ice and floats on a denser material, water. The implications of this are absolutely staggering for life as we experience it on Earth.
As the yearly sun cycle heats and cools the planet, we have our seasons, in particular, winter. (A scientific fact easily the subject of another post is that the duration and heat of the seasons are determined by the Earth’s distance from the sun and the shape and tilt of its orbit around the sun.) During the cold of winter, our northern and southern regions of the earth and in our higher elevation spots get covered with snow and the waters in the streams, lakes, and oceans freeze over. If water did not expand but continued to contract the resulting ice would not float but sink. In the depths of the ocean or lakes, the water is the coldest and ice would melt at a much slower pace. In fact, deep water is so cold ice would not melt and each subsequent winter would create more ice that would sink on top of what is already present. Ice would drop the temperature of the water in the oceans and drop the global air temperatures and eventually Earth would be a big deep freeze. Because water floats we have seasons and not solid "frozens." This begs the question as we go deeper down that rabbit hole. Why does water have this special property of expansion at freezing when just about everything else does not? What about the orbit’s tilt, shape, and distance from the sun? Could it be this is by special design, by a Creator and not by the chance collision of cosmic rocks? Is this the fusion of science and faith?
Water is also a substance that can be found in what scientists term a “triple state.” This is the point where the same molecular substance exists as liquid, solid and gas. In a specific environment ice (solid state) floats on water (liquid state) in an environment of water vapor (the gas state). This triple state is an earthly and tangible example of something that can exist as “three-in-one.” Although infinitely simpler in construct than the Godly Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, water points again to a special design that gives us a glimpse into God. This is the meeting of science, theology, and metaphor.
It is of major consequence that Jesus says to the Samaritan woman and us in John 4:14, “but whoever drinks of the water I give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman asked for this “living water” and entered into a relationship of eternal life with Jesus beginning her new spiritual journey. This is the meeting of science, metaphor, spirituality, and relationship. Receiving this water brings us into a relationship with the Holy Trinity so each part of the Trinity can carry out its role in our lives and we can then respond in the manner in which we were so wonderfully created by the One who took the care and thought to make water the way it is. The Holy Trinity is real as water.