I saw the strangest thing yesterday. I was at my favorite park where I love to walk or just sit and enjoy the incredible view of the mountains. The mountains are some of my favorite things about living here. I have always loved just staring at them, basking in the glory of God’s creation, and imagining his hands forming them. This quote from the series, Christy, describes my feelings about the mountains perfectly:
"The great Smokies. Nothing in my life had prepared me for the wonder of those mountains. Smoke blue and serene folded one behind the other. I counted eleven ranges rising up toward the vault of the sky. I didn't realize it then but from the very first moment I saw them the mountains were a source of peace and strength to me, always there to quiet my mind and satisfy my heart."
Yep, I get chills every time I watch that part. I’m not ashamed to say that a huge reason I moved back to TN was because I couldn’t imagine not being able to look at these mountains every day. One day I will have a house that overlooks the mountains… perhaps in my dreams.
But back to the strange thing I saw yesterday. There is a particular gazebo with a bench that has the best view of the mountains at the park. After my walk I love to sit there and talk to God or just admire the incredible beauty. But yesterday there were two people sitting in that gazebo, which is fine. Everyone deserves to sit there. It’s not just MY place. However, these two people were facing AWAY from the mountains. I could not get over such a travesty! HOW could they be in the presence of something so inexplicably beautiful and be looking in the opposite direction?! Just to drive my point home, I took a picture. This, my friends, is the view they were ignoring.
I thought, if they are going to occupy the prime spot at the park, the least they could do is stare at the beauty. For real. I still can’t get my mind wrapped around it.
But then, as usual, God always teaches me a lesson. I almost immediately thought about how often I look away from the beauty of God. When circumstances were still pretty good, I think I just got used to seeing the same view every day, the same beauty in my life. So, I kind of forgot to bask in the glory. It’s sort of like driving past the same mountain view every day. Eventually, you might not notice it so much. Then, when circumstances got really bad, I focused on the past and wondered why God had taken me away from the beauty.
I was reminded of the Israelites in the desert. God brought them out of slavery in Egypt and gave them manna to eat, but once they got tired of the manna, they complained that God took them out of Egypt. They remembered the good food they ate in Egypt and forgot that God had just freed them from slavery! They focused on the past instead of finding the beauty in their new situation. They said in Exodus 16:3 – “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (NIV). Talk about ungrateful!
During my period of darkness, I pretty much refused to look for the beauty in my circumstances. I thought something so painful could not contain any blessing at all. It’s like God was standing there waving his arms and saying, “Over here! Look! I’ve done all this for you!”, and I just kept looking at the ground and sulking. What a waste of time and fellowship I could have had with the God of the universe, if only I would have been paying attention.
I remained focused for a long time on the past, when things were what I considered ‘good’. I stood facing the past, which had all grown dim in the horror of my present circumstances, and screamed at God, “Why?! Why have you brought me here to this ugly place? How could this be anything but a terrible gift for your child? A father is supposed to know how to give good gifts, and this is anything but good!” And the whole time he was whispering to me,
“My precious child, all you have to do is turn around. I can show you a new beauty, one you have never seen before. It is my gift to you, if you will only turn and look at me.”
My friends, I never, EVER want to face away from my God again. I want to bask in the beauty of his presence! I don’t want him to look at me, like I looked at those people in the gazebo, and think, “If only she would just turn around. I’ve made this gift just for her.” I pray that no matter what painful circumstances we find ourselves in, that we will be able to see the incredible beauty as we turn toward God.
Love to you,