My backyard opens up into a small wooded area—there’s just enough greenery that if I look at it from the right angle, I feel like I’m in a forest. As spring has settled in, my yard has gradually transformed from a sparse brown to a lush green. I’ve lost hours watching the progress of the leaves and marveling at the squirrels at work. When I moved in back in October, I wished the backyard was a little bit bigger and didn’t have so much “wasted” space on the hill. Now I can’t imagine what this place would be like without it.
When it comes to appreciating creation, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. We’re skilled at finding ways to tame and utilize nature, but we sometimes forget that when God made the world he declared it good and beautiful. This post from Wonders of Creation explores what it means to view creation as a beautiful thing made in God’s image:
In this passage beauty comes before utility (usefulness). Now itâ€™s risky to draw set theological principles merely from order of appearance, so Iâ€™d be reluctant to say that the Bible indicates that the beauty of Godâ€™s creation is more important than its usefulness. After all, if the created things were not useful, Adam would not have survived! But just the fact that the concept of beauty comes right in on the heels of Godâ€™s declaring the creation â€œvery goodâ€ (Genesis 1:31) means to me that as creatures made in Godâ€™s image, something resonates within our souls when we come into the presence of something beautiful. So for a one attuned to God, the first experience of Yosemite or Yellowstone would likely cause us to pause and reflect, â€œThis is awesomely beautiful,â€ and not muse, â€œWow, think of how much energy we could generate by putting a dam here or building some geothermal power plants here.â€
Thereâ€™s a sense in which the counter-play between beauty and utility seems to reflect our human spiritual and material natures. We have both natures and we need to be sensitive to both. And guiding us in our sensitivity is the reality that the material things we must use are also the handiwork of God and they have inherent goodness. Maintaining the goodness and beauty of material things as we use them ought to be one of our principle aims as His stewards. Think of a lovingly prepared and beautifully presented Thanksgiving meal in comparison to a chicken bucket from Colonel Sanders!
When have you been astounded by the beauty of creation? How does creation bring you closer to God?