As new residents of Arizona, we recently made a trip to the Grand Canyon.
It had been over ten years since we had last visited, and our youngest girls had never seen it.
As we inched closer to the rim, I felt my heart rate quicken.
I couldn’t wait for that moment when my eyes would lay hold of its beauty once again.
Even though I’ve seen it before, and we’ve all seen pictures, there’s nothing quite like seeing it in person!
And sure enough, my anticipation was well-placed when I beheld its glorious reality.
I gasped when I saw it. The colors, the rocks, the magnitude of it all…it is truly breath-taking.
Why do we marvel at sites like this? What makes us drive for hours just so we can see something?
I think God made us to long for and appreciate beauty because He is beautiful!
We hunger for beauty because we hunger for God.
When we see the Grand Canyon, or a beautiful sunset, or a newborn baby’s face, we respond to its beauty because we were made for more – we were made for glory.
John Piper said it best,
“God himself is the absolute original pattern of all beauty. Beauty is what God is. His wisdom is beautiful wisdom, his power is beautiful power, his justice beautiful justice, and his love is beautiful love.”
I admit that when I think of beauty, my first thought isn’t God.
- I think about beauty in creation, and how much I enjoy taking it in.
- I think about physical beauty, and how I can improve my own. (So much vanity, I know. Just keeping it real!)
- And occasionally, I think about how God created us to appreciate beauty, when I read a good book, or see a beautiful piece of art.
But sadly, my first thought isn’t that God is beautiful, or that I should pursue beauty because beauty is what God is.
We don’t see beauty in isolation and only notice the colors, or patterns, or textures on a canvas.
No. We see the whole painting and how all those elements interplay with each other, and we call it “beautiful.”
How does this intersect with your daily life?
The pursuit of holy leisure is a pursuit to appreciate beauty, and draw our hearts closer to the beauty-maker, God himself.
When we see beauty, we shouldn’t just praise the beauty, but the one who made the beautiful, beautiful.
Here are three ways pursuing beauty in the every day helps us enjoy God more.
Reconsider What You Think Is Beautiful
We hear that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Is beauty subjective or is it objective?
The answer is “yes.”
But there are things that we pass in the name of “art” that aren’t good, true, or beautiful.
Do you really think Beyonce’s music is better than Bach’s?
Or that Fifty Shades of Gray is better literature than Shakespeare? May it never be!
I once heard it said that if you don’t like Shakespeare, it’s not Shakespeare’s fault.
If you don’t like Shakespeare it’s because you haven’t had your tastebuds primed to know and appreciate him.
So test it, to see if it’s beautiful.
Test the thing you’re seeing/hearing/thinking about to see if it’s beautiful by asking…
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
If it doesn’t pass this test…it’s probably not beautiful.
Discover Jesus as Beauty Personified
I ran across this quote the other day, which perfectly sums it up…
“You should never go to God because he is useful. Go because he’s beautiful. And yet there’s nothing more useful than finding God beautiful.”-Tim Keller
Isn’t it interesting that the most beautiful being in all the universe wasn’t physically beautiful?
I’ve always scratched my head when I’ve read Isaiah 53:2, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
And yet, he was completely magnetic and drew massive crowds.
Everything about Jesus is beautiful, even if he had no physical form or comeliness that we should desire him.
Every miracle and interaction he had was a reflection of the beauty of his original created order (sickness to health, death to life, out of nothing to substance, casting out demons, restoring limbs, and sight, and life).
Every interaction of his was true, good, and beautiful.
- Compassion on the crowds
- Hard words for the self-righteous
- Forgiveness for sinners
- Open arms to children, and outcasts, and diseased
- Restoration for the deserter
- Grace for the betrayer
- Assurance for the thief
- Hope for the despairing
And thousands and thousands more.
Truly he is beauty in human flesh. All his ways, words, and works are beautiful.
Pursuing Beauty Is A Means of Worship
Enjoying beauty is part of the formula for otium sanctum — the pursuit of holy leisure.
Otium Sanctum is the pursuit of balance in life, an ability to be at peace throughout the activities of the day, an ability to rest, and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves.
We can enjoy beauty, seek to have more of it in our lives, and use it as a springboard to launch us into more worship of God.
Are you seeking to create a beautiful home?
A welcoming/beautiful home can be an oasis of enjoyment, comfort, and hospitality. A home that’s been lovingly tended to reflects beauty. A home that overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving is the most beautiful thing of all.
Are you seeking to improve your own beauty?
Thank the Lord you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if you don’t always love your physical “tent,” remind yourself that God has made you uniquely you. Enjoy exercise, and rest, and makeup, and nice clothes, as a way of praising the Lord for your femininity and seek to honor Him through your expressions of it. We can adorn ourselves, but beware of solely focusing on outward adornment. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Are you seeking to create a beautiful childhood for your children?
This doesn’t mean a childhood that looks like a Potterybarn ad. A beautiful childhood isn’t one that is absent of hard things, but one that is pointed to truth, goodness, and beauty. Fill their hearts and minds with your enjoyment of God’s beauty in the everyday.
A beautiful life boils down to one thing…
Can you boil down your life’s purpose to one thing?
He knew that the one thing he wanted to do was to behold God and his beauty all the days of his life.
“One thing I have desired of the Lord that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, and to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
That’s worthy of your pursuit and mine.
There’s nothing more useful than finding him to be beautiful.