“I expect by very ridicule and contempt to be called a man of very fruitful brain and copious fancy, but they are welcome to it—I am not ashamed to own that I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, and the divine constitution and history of the holy scriptures, be full of divine things as language.” Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)
I have been utterly amazed at the level of wildlife that I have had the opportunity to enjoy since moving here to the Hudson Valley. Not only are the vistas beautiful; full of lakes and rivers, trees, and surrounded by mountains, but that as I look out my windows, I see the full panorama of the beauty of creation. Pileated woodpeckers, blue birds, blue jays, cardinals, and finches are just some of the birds that frequent my yard. A red fox has meandered along the forest line for me to see. Deer are in abundance, and I’ll never forget watching that fawn dart across my lawn in front of my picture windows. A family of geese waddled by when my family and I were having dinner on our porch. And, while I did not see it, I did get to experience the power of a bear as it ransacked my trash and destroyed two of my bird feeders. What beauty there is all around us.
I often think that as a Christian I get to have a unique grasp of the wonder and significance of the world around me. As the great American theologian Jonathan Edwards said above, it is the whole universe that is full of “divine language.” Edwards is reflecting on the Psalms here. For instance Psalm 19:1 reads, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Everywhere I look, I see the goodness and majesty of God.
It is difficult, at least for me, to look at the wonder and beauty around me and think it all occurred by chance. Considering the gross statistical improbability that the universe could have arrived on its own and life developed on its own from non-life, I’m stuck wondering about where it all came from. Apart from God, I would be forced to look at this universe mechanistically, considering only natural law, and food chains, and such. I would miss out that this universe not only obeys laws, but reveals to us that the One who made it is loving and kind and gave it to us for our enjoyment. How can I look at the beauty all around me and think that God did not love me?
In the grand vistas of the mountains down to the smallest of insects, this world offers us a glimpse at the majesty, creativity, and love of God. Edwards again, could even see the wonderful beauty and care that God provided even for pesky spiders in a famous letter he wrote on spider behavior: “We hence see the exuberant goodness of the Creator, who hath not only provided for all the necessities, but also for the pleasure and recreation of all sorts of creatures, and even the insects and those that are most despicable.”
I wonder of the futility of appreciating the aesthetic beauty of the world around us apart from recognizing that it came from God. If it all happened randomly and through happenstance, then life maintains a level of senselessness. What’s the point? Yet, from both the Bible and the world around me, I can consider and think upon a God that loved me so much that He gave me the very universe to enjoy. From far off swirling galaxies, to a subtle ocean breeze, to the squirrels that steal from my bird feeders, to the bugs that crawl in the earth. All things of beauty are only truly known and truly appreciated, when I consider that they were given to me by a good and gracious God.
So, when I take my morning walk tomorrow, and I gaze upon the wonder of the world, from the babbling brook to the animals that drink from it, I will remember to thank God that He gave me eyes to see a wonderful gift: His world.