When you look at creation how do you respond? Does it lead you to be more grateful?
For many, it leads to worship. The question is whom or what do we worship?
Some bow down and worship the trees, the moon, and the mountains. Others worship the science or the mystical force that created such beauty.
While it would be miraculous indeed to believe that atoms randomly arranged themselves into such beauty, I find it more logical to believe in the Somone who claims to have made the heaven, the earth, the mountains, and the seas.
In fact, I’m with David on this one. When I look at the heavens in their splendor, I wonder who am I that the God who created all things even thinks about me? (see Psalm 8:3-4)
In reflecting on God’s creation, I’d like to consider four ways creation can inspire gratitude.
#1: Beauty Inspires Gratitude
I love sunsets, sunrises, and beautiful mountain and ocean scenes. I have numerous memories where a stunning scene developed that made it feel like “time stood still.”
One specific memory dominates. I wish I had a camera to capture it.
I attended a retreat in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The retreat center sits right on the Pacific Ocean. The beach is surrounded by rugged rocks while still giving a clear view of the ocean. On one particular night, I enjoyed a sunset that rivals all sunsets in my experience. It seemed to last 30 minutes with each minute revealing different hues and strokes of God’s artistic genius. I was so moved I started to dance and sing. You need to understand, that while I’m a professional musician, I am NOT a dancer. But I couldn’t help myself. I was overcome with thankfulness to a God who made such beauty who would pay attention to me.
It caught me off guard. While this happened nearly thirty years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.
Beauty has a way of doing that.
Just like the sunset faded into memory, beauty fades. But it can have a lasting impact if the beauty points us to God and the gifts he’s poured out on us.
#2: Outer beauty points to inner beauty
In 1 Peter 3:3-4, Peter reminds us that outer beauty never lasts, but inner beauty lasts forever. So, if God is able to create such amazing beauty in creation, how much more can he create beauty in our hearts, minds, and souls.
I was with our friend, Leslie, recently. She served for decades as a covert missionary, but she’s now fighting sickness. Even in her ailment, beauty shines through in her countenance. She exudes hope, gratitude, and faith. Sickness can’t take those things away. She has learned to allow outer beauty to prompt her to focus on inner beauty.
That’s one of the benefits of learning the art of gratitude. Being grateful will create an inner beauty that can’t be taken away from you.
#3: Being grateful for God’s provision
Jesus taught us to look at birds and flowers as a reminder of God’s care and provision. If God can feed the birds and clothe the flowers in beauty, surely he can provide food and clothes for us. Worry will yield no harvest, but gratitude and trust will enable us to focus on what really matters (see Matthew 6:25-34). Hear this story about being grateful even when you lose everything.
#4: Creation shows God’s attention to details
Have you ever worked with an artisan who doesn’t paint or decorate the backside or topside of a cabinet, thinking that no one will ever see it? That’s not how God rolls. He pays attention to the smallest details, even if we never see it.
As we learn more and more about atoms and microns we see the intricate detail of how the universe is knit together. God did that long before we ever had microscopes powerful enough to notice.
The same is true about galaxies and outer space. The further we explore the more we discover about the amazing ways God knit together the universe.
On a personal level, we continue to learn about the human body. Our brains are more complex than the most powerful supercomputers ever designed. God knows precisely how our bodies are put together and can heal them. While we often focus on the parts of our body we don’t like or that don’t work the way we wish they did, what if we spent time focused on how well our bodies do work?
Creation reminds us to thank God as THE Master Artist.
Creation reflects God’s creative genius and the paradox that the all-powerful God loves us and pays attention to every part of our lives. What a powerful reason to give thanks every day! Creation leads to life.
Go for a walk or take a drive into creation. Even a park will do. Allow your eyes to guide your prayers. Spend time journaling or praying out loud as you notice the trees, the grass, the birds, the clouds, the insects, or whatever you see. Take time to be thankful for each thing you see, but try to think more deeply.
For example, when you study a tree, think about how God waters it, feeds it, allows the seasons to grow it, and give it rest. Consider how it survives through windstorms, droughts, and the withering heat of summer. Thank God for the shade it provides, it’s beauty in spring and fall, and the way its wood can be used to build houses, furniture, and paper. Get the idea?
Father, I thank you for placing me on the earth and surrounding me with daily prompts that point to you as the Master Artist. I agree with David that it’s amazing that you notice me when you’re surrounded by such massive displays of your beauty, the angels, and the saints who’ve gone before me. Thank you that you care for me, love me, and provide for me. Teach me to be more grateful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.