The beauty of God
By Pastor Thomas Starkjohn, Harvest Community Church, Winsted
Recently, a friend and I went up to the Boundary Waters in the far northeast corner of Minnesota. It’s one of my favorite places to go because of the rugged beauty and solitude.
This time, it was particularly beautiful the fall colors were in full swing, the sun shone brightly, and the air was crisp. We saw moose, eagles, and awesome sunrises and sunsets. Each night, I laid my sleeping bag out under the clear sky and gazed at the stars until I fell asleep.
I assume that many of you have stood under a clear night sky and were filled with awe as you tried to take in the vast multitude of stars. Peoples’ hearts well up within them as they experience the majesty of the heavens, or the majesty of a mountain, the vastness of a dessert, and the mighty rolling of the ocean waves.
Likewise, overwhelming wonder may beset a person as they study the complexities of a living cell, the amazing properties of an atom, or the intricate workings of the human body.
As followers of Christ, how are we to understand these feelings of awe and wonder? Are they experiences we should pursue because they feel good? Are these experiences an end in themselves? May a person even be indifferent to them? For what purpose did God create these awesome and wonderful things?
Psalms 19:1 states, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands.” This verse clearly shows us the purpose of the heavenly wonders they tells us how glorious God is!
What is “glory?” Glory refers to God’s visible splendor and innumerable perfections of every kind. It is the demonstration of his inherent excellence. When someone or something “declares God’s glory,” they are drawing attention to and proclaiming God’s magnificence.
So what are all those planets and stars and galaxies doing in space? God placed them there so that they would be a constant proclamation of how great God is.
At first impression, this might seem to indicate that God is somehow wrongly egotistical. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing wrong in anything God does. But God is very God-centered. He is incomparable in His greatness, so it would be hypocritical for God to do anything that would down-play who He really is.
On a very clear night, you can see a few thousand stars in the sky and maybe a couple of planets. Our galaxy, the Milky Way has between 150-200 billion stars in it, of which our sun is a modest one. And every piece of information we learn about the heavens blows our small minds because of the greatness of these objects.
So what do these pieces of information tell us? They declare to us how great and wonderful our God is. All these vast domains and innumerable stars and galaxies were instantly created by the word of God.
Scripture tells us that God has named every star and his hand holds each atom of the universe in place (see Isaiah 40:25-26 and Colossians 1:16-17). How great is God that he has done such magnificent things!
God made this awe-inspiring creation so that we would have a window into who God really is. As we enjoy the beautiful things of this world, we have a very small taste of what God is really like in his manifold beauty.
We all desire beauty we want to see it, experience it, and have it. We spend immense amounts of time and energy traveling to see beautiful places, spend loads of money to have beautiful possessions, and love to be seen as beautiful people. This is a desire God has placed in our hearts.
If we don’t know that these physically beautiful things point to the greater reality, the greater beauty in God, we will seek satisfaction in things that won’t truly satisfy us. We will chase after the temporal things of this world, and we will never be truly happy.
Instead, we must enjoy these beautiful things because they point to God. We need to acknowledge these beautiful things as windows to God, and glorify God when we experience them.
As we delight in the stars, we need to pray, “Oh God, your creation is so magnificent, and I am enjoying it. But you are the Creator, and are much more magnificent than these things. Satisfy me with your magnificence and help me delight in you and not merely in your creation.”
Thus, we must use the beauty of the creation around us to teach us about the goodness and beauty of God.
Repeatedly the Scriptures tell us to delight ourselves in the Lord (for example, Psalms 37:4). Indeed, this is what will keep us from sin for the desire to sin is nothing more than a misguided attempt to find delight and satisfaction in something that will not ultimately delight and satisfy.
Over and over, the Bible tells us that only God will satisfy us, only God will truly fulfill our every desire. God is indescribably beautiful, and as we learn and experience his beauty, we find true satisfaction in him.
There are many ways to learn of the beauty of God especially through the revelation of his Son, Jesus Christ, through the Scriptures, and also through our personal experiences. But one avenue we often don’t use to learn of the beauty of God is through His creation.
Therefore, find wholesome things to delight in whether stars or trees, music or art, mountains or seas. But make certain that you use those experiences to point your heart to the true delight found in our beautiful God who alone can satisfy our hearts’ desire for beauty.