March 12, 2013

If anything is lovely, think on these things…

Beetle dances on head of a pin.
Today’s devotional reading ending with a brief anecdote about looking at roses under a microscope and finding perfection. He wrote, “The beauty of God is revealed in the tiniest cell of the flower. God is very beautiful, and everything that is of God is essentially beautiful.”

This sent me on an Internet search. I typed “microscopic beauty” and clicked “images” and was taken into fascinating places. Some of the links are at the end of this post.*

The verse for today is about worship, but also about coming to the Lord in an awareness of what He has done in creating us, His creatures.

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! (Psalm 96:9)

By doing a little research, I found that the word translated “splendor” is associated with what adorns me as a child and creation of God, but also the glory of nature as together we reflect the goodness of God. That is, the emphasis is not on the worshipper except that in worship, God brings to our hearts the realization of His holiness and beauty of God, and that brings out a response that is comparable to what He reveals. One writer said this verse could be translated as “Prostrate yourselves before the Lord when he appears in holiness” but it could also say, “When you see the glory of God, you cannot help but worship Him as a reflection of His glory.”

The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). As I looked at those microscopic images, I thought that the earth certainly declares the beauty of God. It is reflected in His handiwork. This is not confined to butterfly wings and tiny plants, but includes humanity.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14–16)

Recognizing that God creates beauty in the tiniest details, including the retina of my eye and the tissue in my lungs puts an awe for Him in my heart. This ‘seeing’ is not about me, but about my beautiful God. Today’s devotional reading says it well:

The psalmist is appealing to people to praise God, calling them to recognize his greatness, his glory, calling them to think of his power and majesty, urging them to answer the things their eyes see and their hearts feel by offering praise to him. In this call so poetic and full of beauty is revealed the meaning of worship, its condition and glory. “O worship the LORD.” The supreme thing is worship. But how is worship to be rendered? “In the beauty of holiness.” Wherever you find beauty, it is the outcome of holiness. Wherever you find beauty as the outcome of holiness, that beauty itself is incense, is worship. To live the life of holiness is to live the life of beauty, and that is to worship.

God is a God of glory. God is a God of love. But he is also the God of beauty. His glory and beauty are seen in the blossoms, in the starry heavens, in tiny organisms as well as majestic mountains and the sunlit sky beyond them. The beauty of flowers in form and color and perfume is from a beautiful Creator, but so also is everything that is lovely, even in human beings.

When I look in the mirror, it is so easy to focus on the blemishes, the hair out of place, the unwanted shapes, but God tells me to look deeper. None of what I see in the mirror is about the glory that is to come, and none of it is a reflection of all that He intends for me.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

Putting all of this together, the Lord gives me a glimpse of His creative power, of the beauty that comes from a mind and heart that simply must overflow with lovely things. And for this, I worship Him.


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