“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:1).
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).
What stops you in your tracks? Here’s my short list:
• The sight of a multitude of stars decorating a moonless, cloudless sky.
• The sound of ocean waves crashing or tiny ripples quietly lapping the shore of a nearly still lake.
• The fragrance of a citrus grove in full blossom.
• The majesty of Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the mighty Mississippi or the California coast through Big Sur.
• The song of a lonely night bird.
• The sunset and sunrise on just about any given day.
All of these beg me to linger for at least a moment before I turn back to whatever I was doing before the glorious interruption. They all still make me breathe out an audible “WOW!” as well as a “Thank You!”
I am convinced that is exactly what God expected our response would be when we discover the degrees and depths of the beauty He packed into every millimeter of His universe, an expanse we’ve only just begun to explore. All of this stunning beauty was intended to capture our attention and fill our hearts with wonder and our senses with pleasure.
But consider this. In Romans 1:18-20 Paul makes it clear that before God put His finger to the stone tablets given to Moses, He had already written a very articulate “text message” in creation. The two stone pages Moses delivered to Israel carried 10 basic instructions to frame our relationship with Him and one another. But God’s first book, “written in the heavens,” is written, not in words, but in wonders and covers the sum total of all that surrounds us in the physical and visible universe, a universe that unfolds further than we can see or measure.
In science textbooks, this creation has been renamed “nature.” That’s not necessarily a bad move, as long as we understand that the nature behind nature is the nature of God Himself.
God reveals Himself through all He’s made.
There is something profound in the message of God’s “first textbook,” a book written in the heavens above us and the earth beneath our feet.
How is it then, that so many who are captured by and revel in the exquisite beauty of nature seem to miss the accompanying glory of the loving God who created it all to sustain us and delight us?
God’s glory is reflected in the beauty that stops us in our tracks. His power is seen in the forces of “nature.” His tenderness is revealed in the delicate and fragile beauty of a mountain or meadow filled with wild flowers, chattering animals, giggling streams and hosts of other marvelous critters. His power and even fury (a topic for another time) is seen in a frightening thunderstorm or erupting volcano. His genius is evident in the astonishing complexity of the very 12 or so systems that work together to keep each of us alive and interacting with one another.
And may we never forget this: All that beauty would have literally fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes if God had not also designed us with a bundle of senses that make us aware of both the beauty in front of us and the glory behind that which has captured our attention. Those five basic senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste are meant to remind us of the Giver, God, the Maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1).
Perhaps it all really does come down to one simple observation.
Is it possible that God’s extravagance in creation was meant to simply capture our attention, so He could capture our hearts?
After all, doesn’t it seem like He went overboard in His explosion of creativity? Like an artist painting a masterpiece to capture the attention of a love interest, or the bashful boy who knocks on the door with a fist full of flowers. That simple, beautiful gift is a mere gesture of the heart and intent of the Giver.
So the next time you are stopped in your tracks, as your senses engage and you stand breathless before the beauty of creation, take time to ponder the glory of God behind the beauty of nature, and perhaps add a “Thank You!” to your “Wow!” and surrender more deeply to the One who has “richly given us all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).