Structure implies function. This may be the simplest answer key to the hardest test question ever written: what are you made for?
Every year, I began the college course I taught in Anatomy and Physiology this way. Holding up a small spatula with a jagged split down its center, I asked my students to tell me what they thought it was. They guessed the spatula part easily, but what was the jagged division for? No one ever knew.
I passed the spatula around the class so they could take a closer look. Describe it, I say to them. Tell me what you see. What’s its “structure?” Its top is white and bendable and it has a red handle. It has a jagged split about 3/4 of way down. Right! So, based on what it looks like, can you decide what it is? what it does? what it is designed to do?
We began the A&P course this way because I wanted my students to marvel at the miraculous nature of the human body and the genius of its design. Look at any structure, any organ, any system and it gives you clues about how it works. Anyone can be a human body detective: based on the tangible evidence, what can you deduce about what this part does?
Based on the loins of the cheetah, it is made to run fast to elude predators and catch prey. One can play this game with any animal: the zebra is made to blend. The chameleon is made to blend. And the vibrant color of the male of nearly all species is made to distract predators from the more bland, offspring- bearing female. The human, my college Biology professor told us, is the sole exception to this.
Interesting? Yes, structure implies function.
Take a quick look at the human body and we can tell right away that it is not made to eat from tall trees, shield itself from predators, run like a cheetah, blend like a zebra, or vanish into the background like a chameleon. Man is made to think, feel and move. Its brain, to process incoming and outgoing information. Its special senses, to make it aware of its surroundings. And its organ systems, to fight, flee or freeze. Everything about our structure is made so that we can function as humans.
Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God through Our Bodies, my upcoming book, will usher you into this thinking, feeling, moving experience. Who made us? Who designed us? What was the designer thinking as the crafting and creating was taking place? While we can’t put ourselves into that mind, we can look at the finished product, our bodies, and deduce — just as the students in my classes did — what something that looks like this, is built like this, that can bend and flex and push and pull like this, is meant to do.
And, we get a sense of the One who created us. Because every artist signs their work. Behind the design lies the hand of the Designer.
Just as any work of art illuminates its artist — a play shows us the mind of the play write, a book opens us to the mind of the author, a painting helps us see what the painter sees and a sculpture what the sculptor feels — our bodies and our lives lived in them, show us what our Creator had in mind when we came to life and the plans laid out for our lives.
The psalmist tells us,
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139: 13-16)
It is my hope that, through activities, reflections, and prayers, offered in the light of passages of scripture, Made to Move will provide a way for you to know and love better the God who created you and loves you best. Your life is proof that you were made for a good and special purpose.
Structure implies function. We have our answer key. Let’s work backward to ask: who made me? what for?
Oh, in case you were wondering about the spatula with the jagged cutout? Its groove was designed to neatly scrape along the individual prongs of the mixer beaters so you didn’t miss a drop of tasty batter. Do you remember licking that bowl?
Isn’t it amazing what a clever mind that surely LOVES what it’s mixing can design and create?