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God's Magnum Opus

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Hiking down Mt. Tom in Woodstock, VT I was surrounded by the splendor of creation. Wild daisies and Sweet William intermixed with ferns and grasses waving vivid green against endless blue sky. A bluebird rested in an ancient maple far above the tracks of doe and fawn dotting the soft forest loam.

How not to believe at moments like these with the splendor of creation all around me? DSC_0608 (800x530)

My little girls stopped to splash in a fountain made from an underground spring. Lightly freckled noses, soft blond lashes, sunshine reflected from red gold hair. Their beauty took my breath away. Meadow and forest paled beside it. I found myself blinking back tears.

But, I quickly stopped and repented as I thought, No, wait, I’m here in God’s glorious creation, I shouldn’t be thinking so of my own children when surrounded by so much natural beauty. I felt guilty for a few seconds until I realized how very backward my thinking was.

God’s creation, the boulders and trees and mountain springs, is glorious. It gives a glimpse of His magnificent imagination, but His crowning glory, His magnum opus, is the creation of man. He saved us for last and we alone bear His image.

How not to revel in that? My children, my father, my husband, my nephew –those surrounding me on the mountainside were the truest beauty of the scene and my enjoyment of them glorying in His creation was only natural. In fact, it was a form of worship.

How often as we enjoy those around us do we pause, in spirit if not in active thought, and say, “Wow, God, You’ve done good work.”? Holy worship of our Creator God.

But sadly, sometimes we see only what is ugly in those around us.

That man cut me off.

That woman is picking her nose.

That child is such a brat.

These thoughts, observations, are the antithesis of worship. When we find fault in the creation, aren’t we in a way finding fault with the Creator? We’re saying, “What you’ve made here isn’t good enough, I would have done it differently, Lord.”

For years I’ve played a simple game when standing in line or watching a crowd. I take a moment to really look at each person passing by, to find the beauty there. A sweep of dark hair, a mischievous gleam in the eye, a slight smile on the lips. Seeking to see in each and every one the beauty that God placed there, a glimpse of the beauty He sees when He looks at them.

Often I find it in the stoop of the shoulder, the twist of a gnarled hand, or hair bleached white by the passing years. I wonder, what life experience has brought that stoop, caused that twist? DSC_0515 (800x601)And from true observation of my fellow man prayer so naturally flows.

Lord, put joy into those eyes.

Lift up that head.

Send Your Spirit to this person.

When it becomes a habit to look for beauty, to offer a prayer, it is so much harder to stand in judgement.

I have the most difficult time applying this principle to myself, in fact for a long time I never even thought to try. I look at the pictures my husband takes of me, pictures that tell the story of a man who sees beauty in his wife. All I see are wrinkles, baggy eyelids, bad posture, and skinny arms. Delete. Delete. Delete. Until no pictures remain.

Isn’t this also a criticism of my creator? God, you put beauty in everyone else, but none into me. And so sometimes I force myself to look until I see a beauty in me, too.

Man is God’s greatest creation. He didn’t send His Son to die for the trees and the flowers, no matter how magnificent. Only for man, His magnum opus. He sees the beauty in every single person, including in me; He’s the one who put it there. In looking for and finding this beauty, we honor Him. In glorying in the beauty we find, we worship Him.