Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fighting & Surrendering, Part 2

Continuing from yesterday's post, I wanted to mention another way fighting may manifest in our lives, again taking an example from my own life.

I have realized that I feel the need to always be productive. This tendency of mine recently caught my attention with the fervor over the Olympics. I was trying to understand it (I still am). I watched some of it with my family, as they had it on, but I didn't watch the opening ceremonies because I didn't know the Olympics had even started. Some of my family was shocked I didn't know who Michael Phelps was. I don't get the draw to sports. I've never been a person who has been into sports. I prefer the arts.

As I was watching the Olympics, I was trying to justify my disinterest, and the first argument that came to mind is that at least the arts are functional. They move us, they reveal God's love and beauty in the world, they are means of expression. I don't see any of that in sports (maybe it's there and it's not my means :) ).

Again, coincidentally enough, I got the devotional below the same day. It reminded me that life does not always have to be functional. It can simply be beautiful. Life can simply be because life itself is beautiful.

Yet I fight against this idea every day, trying to find another way to be functional in every second of my day. Why? If I'm functional, I get more done, allowing me to have a better chance at being perfect, and therefore believing I am acceptable. Slowing down and simply accepting God, God's beauty, and myself is remarkably relaxing and connects me to God more. It's hard to do, but I'm trying to do it. Have you ever had this experience of trying to make everything functional?

Beauty Is Absolutely Essential

I (John) just let out a deep sigh. That we even need to explain how beauty is so absolutely essential to God only shows how dull we have grown to him, to the world in which we live, and to Eve. Far too many years of our own spiritual lives were lived with barely a nod to beauty, to the central role that beauty plays in the life of God, and in our own lives. How could we have missed this?

Beauty is essential to God. No—that’s not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God.

The first way we know this is through nature, the world God has given us. Scripture says that the created world is filled with the glory of God (Isa. 6:3). In what way? Primarily through its beauty. We had a wet spring here in Colorado, and the wildflowers are coming up everywhere—lupine and wild iris and Shasta daisy and a dozen others. The aspens have their heart-shaped leaves again, trembling in the slightest breeze. Massive thunderclouds are rolling in, bringing with them the glorious sunsets they magnify. The earth in summer is brimming with beauty, beauty of such magnificence and variety and unembarrassed lavishness, ripe beauty, lush beauty, beauty given to us with such generosity and abundance it is almost scandalous.

Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. We’re so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness, this thought will take a minute or two to dawn on us. Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Which is to say, beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses (for our God has seen fit to arrange for this). Nature at the height of its glory shouts, Beauty is essential! revealing that Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of his glory.

(Captivating , 23–24)

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