Were the Deists right?

“Our Lord is Sustainer in each moment of every day!”

~ Tony

Letter to Sonia

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Col. 1:17

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”

Heb. 1:3



I became a Christian at about thirty due to a difficult personal situation. So, my acceptance of Christ was prompted by a fox-hole experience. I was working at Sun Gas Company in Houston and immersed (no pun intended) in various geo-engineering projects offshore the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, we were attending a church that did not prioritize many of the established rational defenses of Conservative Biblical Christianity. You see the potential conflict? Career versus faith. Should I think in two ways or one? It was just simply my natural desire to pursue what I would later call apologetics. I needed to know, to make sure, that my heart and mind would both be engaged as I developed my understanding of my new faith, my personal Christian worldview. One of the many things I struggled with was the concept of the Lord being much more than just Creator. Here comes the geologist. Were the Deists right? Did God create then step away, being somewhat or totally disengaged from the daily happenings on earth, handing over control to us as the intricate clock simply winds down. Perhaps He was on vacation (smile), or perhaps focused and ultimately responsible for only the big important things, the “God things” like cancer and wars.

One day while driving the morning commute at about 70 mph on the Katy Freeway west of Houston, I prayed, “Dear Lord, as you know, I am struggling with the concept of you being Creator or Creator-Sustainer. I read in the Bible that you sustain all things. Is it true that nothing happens without your choreography, plan, and empowerment? To some extent, are the Deists correct? Have you walked away or are you intimately involved in absolutely everything here, everything we face and deal with? If we are on our own, what would the world be like?”

Thirty years later, forgive me, this prayer, or these words, are likely not the ones I used, but, again, please understand these words were said by a very young Christian who still believed that God could be distant. I was clearly struggling with the concept of Him being Sustainer. In fact, I was probably still a firm believer in Darwinian evolution, a theory that requires a God very much out of the picture and a Bible not to be taken literally.

As soon as I ended my prayer, I went blind. Besides having no sight my eyes were on fire. Also, I could not breathe. People have suggested that this was simply because I was scared to death, but, no, I am sure there was no air to breathe. Obviously, I couldn’t see and breathe because this was an answer to my prayer: what would the world be like if you were not now actively sustaining all things? There would be nothing, or perhaps, and this is the image I remember, there would be a primitive gas cloud, no air, no life, something perhaps like a dark nebula or distant cloud of dust in space. 

But here is the bottom line. The worst of it was definitely not being blind or my inability to breathe. Granted, by far the deepest struggle or emotion was fear, and a few of my friends have said, “No kidding. Driving down the highway blind could be a bit scary? You think?” No, they miss the point. At that moment those things were not the reasons for my fear. By far, and I have never been more certain about anything, the intense fear I felt was due to the fact that I knew I was totally alone. The physical pain and knowing I was driving at 70 mph blind truthfully were no longer deserving of my attention. I was scared to death, frantic, absolutely terrified, because for the first time in my life I knew I was totally alone. I felt abandoned. Deserted.

Two to three seconds later I was driving down the highway as usual. White knuckles, gasping for air, but all was quickly returned to normal. Well, I was forever changed.

Please know that our Lord is Sustainer and in each moment of everyday He cannot possibly be closer to us. His Holy Spirit indwells the believer, but his power and nature are clearly seen and experienced by us all (Rom. 1:20). My prayer? “Lord what would it be like if the Deists were right or you created us, our world, then stepped away?” We would be thrust into a place where an intense fear of being alone prevailed. All else would be tributary. May we never have to experience that depth of emotional pain. Even when we feel that God has overlooked us, prayers may not be answered, at least not yet or to our liking, please don’t ever think He has left us. Not for a second. Read Psalm 139. We breathe, we live, and we laugh and cry, because He makes it all possible. Your heart doesn’t beat by itself. You cannot take one breath without Him. Do not ever think we are alone.

Tony Carvalho