God is Spirit and therefore invisible. So when we speak of God’s beauty, we are not referring to a visible, aesthetic quality; but rather to a combination of qualities that include His love, perfection, goodness, faithfulness—qualities that pleases our intellect, moral attitudes, emotional states, and, especially, our intuitive yearning to know and to be known by God. God’s invisible but clearly identified beauty is seen in His shining glory displayed in creation; in his love and provision for all life on Earth; and in the colors, design, and variety of natural phenomena.
The soul-lifting splendor of nature’s wild beauty is God’s painting. The stirring sights and rhythmic sounds of nature; the exotic smells and limitless textures of plants; the incredibly diverse fauna—all offer the spiritual seeker a felt connectedness with the beauty of God’s presence in creation. As such, nature’s beauty can fill human hearts with peace and serenity—and inspire our mind to seek and experience the Creator of it all. Theologian Alister McGrath captured this when he wrote:
The beauty of the world . . . reflects the beauty of God. Nature is like a mirror, itself beautiful while reflecting an even greater beauty of God. To study the wonder of nature is to glimpse tantalizing facets of the face of God, and long to see more. . . . Our sense of wonder at the beauty of nature is thus an indirect appreciation of the beauty of God. Rightly perceived, nature points beyond itself.
When I wander through a mountain forest or across a blossoming meadow; when I sit beside a cascading river or below a plunging waterfall; when I peer into the grandest of canyons or feel the energy and power of a summer thunderstorm—it is easy to recognize God’s creative attention to the beauty and harmony of nature. Even the most stark and lifeless looking desert displays remarkable artistic and creative workmanship: wind and rain sculptured dunes and sandstone cliffs; monoliths, batholiths, and desolate, inhospitable, alkali crusted dry lake beds; and the bizarre—even weird looking—plants, crawling insects, and other slithering creatures. All convey the Creator’s signature; His fingerprints are everywhere. As award winning author, Philip Yancey, well said, “nature’s works speak loudly of their Creator.”
The clearest way to recognize and appreciate God’s visual beauty revealed in nature is to experience nature without God’s visual beauty. In next week’s blog, I’ll share a heart-wrenching personal experience to illustrate this. ©