I actually wrote this post a while ago. But I didn’t publish it. I didn’t want to. Because life didn’t seem beautiful. It didn’t seem lovely. But even when everything seems cold and dark and crazy, God still brings beautifulness into the most broken parts of life. He can bring out good from all things. And as my Mom reminded me, with the world as crazy as it is, we need to look for the beauty. We need to be reminded of God’s constant blessing in our lives. So I’m reminding myself of the loveliness of life, and the beauty of the One Who made it.
Last time we discussed how the trials of life can be greater than that of fairy-tales. Yet, though the dangers and foes may be more intense, so also is the joy, the beauty.
Remember the last time you read a description of a place so beautiful, you had to pause, close your eyes, and imagine it. Was it Lothlorien? Or Cair Paravel? Perhaps the church of Notre dame, Avonlea, or even just a quiet forest at midnight? Simple lines of ink on paper can transport us to scenes of un-know beauty.
But having imagined all these, think of the everyday beauty all around you.
Have you ever sat quietly outside and watched the sunset, slowly sinking as the shining stars step in to take its place? How can you describe all of its glory? What words can sufficiently explain? Or have you walked by yourself along the ocean, seagulls flying overhead, the wind roaring about your ears as you watch the waves appear along the distant horizon? Could you sum up all the emotion and wonder of that moment in a paragraph? In a page? A book? All the words in the world can only help if you’ve actually been there, actually seen, actually felt, actually lived. I can only call them to your memory because you already know.
Yet these simple, common scenes of beauty not only happen every day, but are different each time. A sunset may be a gentle, quiet affair, soft pastels melting into each other into the night; or a loud blazing burst of color, setting the whole sky aflame; or a thousand places in between. The ocean may be sleepy, strands of mist rising as the waves whisper against shore; or a raging giant, roaring of ruin and destruction, an alarming, awful beauty.
We walk in the midst of delights rivaling those of any fairy-tale. We’re surrounded by overwhelming beauty. And we’ve become blind to compensate.
And this may not seem immensely important. “Ok, I didn’t stop to be wowed by the intricacy of a flower, or the curving trail of a swallow’s flight, it’s not a big deal.” But I wonder if in becoming blinder to beauty, we have also become blinder to God.
After all, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. (Ps 19:1) God’s work gives testimony to who He is. When we ignore it, do we not perhaps ignore reminders of His character as well? The wonders of Creation show His righteousness, His wisdom, His eternal power, and His eternal Godhead, to name a few. (Ps 97:6; Jer 10:12; Rom 1:20) In fact, the existence of beauty itself says something about God.
Because He didn’t have to make loveliness.
Have you ever considered that? There is no need for sunsets to be stunning. There is no purpose in posies being pretty. He could have designed the world differently. He could have made food tasteless, just a simple fuel required for life. He could have made all our hair one color, it’s not like the differences serve any purpose. He could have scheduled a sheet of clouds to come in every day at 2 o’clock, water everything, and then disappear. But that’s not what He did. Instead we have food sweet and spicy, savory and sour; curry, ice-cream, pizza, peaches. Instead we have hair of every color and kind, straight, wavy, curly, bouncy. Instead we have an ever-changing canvas of white sitting, running, or stretching across the sky. God did not have to make beauty, yet He did.
And not only do we live among great beauties, but among great joys as well. In the midst of recognizing our world is broken, dark, and painful, we can sometimes miss the happiness we are still blessed with in this fallen state. It’s summer, we’ll probably all go to a few weddings. Take time to study the bride and groom. See how they absolutely delight each other, how they always want to be as near to each other as they can. Or think of a birth. Think of all the joy and tears of happiness, see the sacred joy of mother and child nestled close together.
Yet it is not only the huge, momentous occasions which give us this deep joy. Have you ever sat around a table with your family, all laughing until they can’t breathe over an old joke? Or hugged a loved-one who has been too long away from home? Or had a long chat with a friend over ice-cream? Have you watched a firework show, cheered your team’s winning goal, or sat cuddled up with a good book? By God’s grace, ordinary life can be filled with extraordinary joy. Yet even when life hates us, we may still have joy unspeakable in Christ. (1 Pet 1:8)
“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” G.K. Chesterton
We are surrounded, overrun with rampant beauty. So how do we respond? What answer is sufficient for these statements of joy?
Well, what does the rest of Creation do? It praises Him Who is the Source of all these things. So let us consider those things which are true, which are honest, which are just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.
And in doing so, let our gaze ever be drawn to Him who is the Truth, who is Just and the Justifier, who is Holy, who is the Beautiful, to whom belongs all honor, glory, and praise.
Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise Him in the heights. Praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts. Praise ye Him, sun and moon: praise ye Him, all ye stars of light. Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for He commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: Ha hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: fire, and hail; snow and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling HIs word: mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto Him. Praise ye the Lord. Psalms 148: 1-14