A few days ago I was cycling along a pathway by the Ottawa River. I was perplexed about my current circumstances, and I stopped for a few minutes to sit on a bench and look at the river. As I told the Lord of my concerns, I sensed the Spirit prompting me to look at the fruit cluster on a sumac bush.
I went over to have a look, and was amazed. The Spirit reminded me of the thousands of cells of various types in each berry, each cell containing hundreds of complex organic molecules built with chains of atoms that are themselves fantastically complex. And this is just a single fruit cluster on a single sumac bush! That’s not to mention the millions of other species of living things on earth, let alone the wonders of the mineral world and the vast galaxies that form outer space. My concerns fell into perspective as I realized that the God who made all this had a place for me in his plans.
All my life I have been enthralled by the wonder of God’s creation. The beauty of the created order – even in its fallen, marred state – reflects the glory, goodness and creative generosity of God, and brings rest to my soul. But more recently I have begun to find myself increasingly captivated by the beauty of God himself.
Several books of the Bible include descriptions of God’s throne room and the majestic splendour that surrounds him. Among the best known and most detailed visions are found in the Book of Revelation.
Sadly, many people tend to avoid Revelation. It’s an amazing book, written by a man with a deep love for God’s people. As a young man, John had been Jesus’ closest earthly friend. By the time he wrote the Book of Revelation, he was an old man, living in a prison camp on the Aegean Sea because of his faith in Christ. He was the overseer of several Christian communities in Asia Minor that were tasting intense persecution under the cruelty of the Emperor Domitian. John wrote to give them hope and encouragement.
Although John spoke a message of hope, it was also a sober message. The Lord would return to deliver his people, destroy evil and bring in the new age of righteousness and peace. But before his return, there would be a period of intense struggle. The Spirit revealed to John that there would be much turmoil and many painful trials before the final victory and the coming wedding feast.
Yet before showing John any of these gruesome details, the Spirit gave him several powerful encounters with the beauty and majesty of the Father and the Son. There’s a stunning vision of the Son of Man in Revelation 1, and an equally awe-inspiring description of the throne room of God in Revelation 4 and 5.
I am still very much a beginner when it comes to truly understanding these heavenly realities. But I am realizing in a fresh way why we need to feed our hearts on the beauty of God.
Of all the wondrous aspects of God’s glory, perhaps the most wondrous of all is that he is interested in us. The throne room contains not only the throne of the Ancient of Days but also the throne of the Lamb who was slain for us. Although God, He is also one of us, and he stands ready to open the seals of the scroll that will complete history and bring in a renewed, restored and glorified earth.
Over the past couple of weeks the world has been treated to the spectacle of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. These games were an amazing display of the glory of man. The Olympics showcase humanity’s drive to pursue and appreciate excellence, order and beauty in all domains of life. This drive is in us because we are made in the image of a great, glorious and creative God, who intended us to rule the earth on his behalf. Even in our fallen condition, having made quite a mess of things, we still bear His imprint. Yet if we pursue the glory of man without God, we end up empty, disappointed and frustrated.
I have known for a long time that I needed God. I know that I am daily dependent on His love, truth and power. But God is not just a source of gifts that I need to sustain my life. As long as I think of God that way, I still don’t really get it. I was made to worship and adore the Beautiful One. He is beautiful, delightful, exquisite in himself. You and I need to learn to feed our souls on his beauty. In the end, it is only His beauty that can satisfy us, sustain us, keep us from evil, and bring us through to the glorious destiny that we were made for.