It was a late September evening as my wife Rita and I stood awestruck on a dock overlooking Lake Bemidji in northern Minnesota. We were staring up at the Milky Way as it sprinkled stars like diamonds all across the black sky. The planet Venus sparkled on the mirror surface of the lake. Crickets sang in the bushes along with a lonely loon in the distance. Time stopped for us, until finally Rita and I looked at each other and said, “I want to cry!” That’s how inexpressibly beautiful the night was. We wanted to cry as we longed to lose ourselves into its beauty.
You have had the same feeling I’m sure. It’s the feeling we all have in the presence of beauty. It might sweep over you as you listen to the Hallelujah Chorus, smell the fragrance of jasmine, listen to children play, or see the Grand Canyon. Beauty draws us out of ourselves and pulls us into it. We gravitate toward beauty.
It is the beauty of God that so enthralls David in our Scripture text today. In fact, David says that his one great desire in life is to spend all his days beholding God’s beauty. David sings many songs about the beauty of creation, but he knows that its beauty pales alongside the beauty of his God. David knows that the infinitely greatest of all, is the infinitely most beautiful. More than David delights in any beauty he delights in the beauty of God. We cannot understand the life of David unless we understand that he was intoxicated with the beauty of God.
Any definition of beauty speaks of pleasure, delight, enjoyment, and wonder. Beauty takes our breath away, leaves us wanting for more, and wanting to tell others. Beauty lures us into transcendent, indescribable time that we never want to end. Beauty wants to be known and spread.
How is it then that I sat through seven years of classroom theology and was never once told that God was beautiful? Yes, I was told that he was holy and just, all powerful and all knowing, but not told that he is exquisite, sheer beauty? Perhaps no facet of God has been so neglected in the modern era as His beauty. Theology and church suffer boredom and loss when they do not revel in the beauty that is God. Evangelism loses traction when devoid of the alluring and enticing beauty of God.
C. S. Lewis, in his book Till We Have Faces, writes, “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all beauty comes from.” It was the beauty of creation, literature, and art that led Lewis on his hunt for God, and to find from where the unspeakable beauty comes. I think Lewis’ sweet longing was David’s longing. It was the longing that sees God’s beauty shining through every sunrise and sunset, every spine tingling song, every inspired work of art, and every moment of joy. God is that place where all joy comes from! And the sweetest thing in all of life is that longing to know more of His beauty.
God’s beauty is the source of all that is beautiful in our world. With every beautiful song, beautiful painting, and beautiful deed, the beautiful God is coaxing us to Himself, to find the beginning of all beauty. The theologian, Karl Barth, wrote concerning the beauty of God:
“To declare that God is beautiful is to say that God has this superior force, this power of attraction, which speaks for itself, which wins and conquers, in the fact that He is beautiful, divinely beautiful.”
I don’t know what your thoughts of God are today, but know this: He is indescribably beautiful. Ask Him to show you his beauty and you will never get over it. He will leave you, like David, wanting for more, and wanting to tell others.
You could find no better prayer for your life, than the one David made the prayer for his:
One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple.
Grace and Peace–Tim