Windows into Heaven

Several weeks ago my wife and I had our twentieth wedding anniversary. To celebrate the occasion I decided to take my wife to Queenstown for the weekend. Now I have been to amazing spots in my life. I have stood on the lip of Grand Canyon and marvelled at its grandeur. I have stood on a sky bridge in Langkawi, Malaysia and watched eagles fly underneath me. I have stood on the top of Mount Taranaki on a clear day and seen all the way to the Southern Alps. I have seen amazing cityscapes from sky scrapers, but the sheer beauty of Queenstown takes your breath way. In fact while I was down there I had this incredible desire just to keep on taking photographs because it was so breathtaking. I just wanted to draw into my soul the beauty of the place. For the first time I could understand what the great English writer and novelist, C.S. Lewis meant when he said:

"We do not merely want to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it . . ."

As people we seem to have this great desire to discover and experience beauty, not only in nature but also in music and poetry. So why do we have this relentless desire for beauty? Why do thousands of people flock to Queenstown, or to the Grand Canyon or to observation deck on skyscrapers? Because it fills a deep longing in our heart to be in the presence of something greater than ourselves.It reminds us of how things should be.The Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God has set eternity in the hearts of men." Deep within us is the recognition that there is something beyond this life and someone beyond this world. We can deny this knowledge intellectually, but God's presence in us and all around us is still obvious. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4)

When we see beauty, it's like a window has been opened and we see our real home, we see an echo of heaven. But even more than that, we are pointed to God because all good things are a manifestation of His glory. Dane Ortlund in his book titled, Edwards on the Christian Life :Alive to the beauty of God:says:

"True joy derives not from God and job, family, sex, friends, food, rest, driving, buying a home, reading a book, drinking coffee — but from God in these things. . . . Every taste of beauty in this world, from the roar of waterfalls to the chatter of birds to the richness of true friendship to the ecstasy of sexual experience, is a drop from the ocean of divine beauty. Every pleasure is an arrow pointing back to him. Joy is from, and only finally in, God"

Now we can do two things when we experience beauty, we can as Ortlund suggests see it as an arrow pointing to the creator and say, "if this moves me how much greater, how much more majestic, how more beautiful must be the creator who conceived it and made it and thus fall our knees and worship him. Or we can idolise and make it into a god. Romans chapter 1: 21 -25 says, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. . . . Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. . .They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised."

So we shouldn't idolise beauty and place it above God, we should see it as reminder that this is not our home, that there is a more beautiful place for those who place their faith in Christ. Beauty should remind us of the greatness and majesty of God and the joy we will experience when we are finally in His presence.

May we echo the words of Psalm 27:4:

"One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple."


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