Gazing on the Beauty of the Lord

Posted on Oct 26, 2014

“One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.” —Psalm 27:4

One of the things we like to do when we go back to Florida to visit Geni’s family is to go to the beach. Our favorite spot is Bowman beach on Sanibel Island.

In recent years we have taken to going later in the afternoon. We do this for two reasons. The first is to escape the peak temperatures that make sitting on the beach like camping out next to a blast furnace. The second reason is in order to see the sun set.

The sun sets are absolutely gorgeous. With the clouds that are usually scattered across the sky reflecting the rays of light, together with the reddish hues of the light as the sun nears the horizon the setting sun is breath-taking.

On one of our trips to Sanibel when we were in Florida for a sabbatical in 2010 I observed a very interesting phenomenon having to do with one of these Sanibel sunsets. It was on in the evening and sunset was approaching. There were people scattered up and down the beach. Some were still splashing around in the waves. Others were floating quietly on a tube. The sun was sliding toward the water and, as I described earlier, the clouds were scattering the sunlight, deflecting it in beams across the sky, defusing it in silver linings around their edges.

As the sun drew near to touching the water I looked up the beach. All the play had stopped. Conversations had stopped. Everyone was turned, facing north-westward, standing quietly, in awe, totally taken with the beauty that was unfolding before them. The splendor in the sky was arresting their attention. Really the only sane thing to do at that moment was to leave off whatever else one had been doing and just stare at the sky. Any reasonable person with eyes to see could not ignore the beauty.

I don’t know if I thought of it then, but I’ve thought of it since. That scenario is a perfect illustration of the only sane, the only right and reasonable response to the glory of the Lord. Infinitely more glorious than a Sanibel sunset is the glory of God; the glory of the One who is infinitely, absolutely, and perfectly glorious in His power and wisdom and goodness.

David understood this and so he declared—“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek.” Knowing the infinite beauty of the glory of his God he longed for opportunity to be in His presence, beholding His greatness, reflecting on His beauty.

How did David come to have this awareness, and thus, this longing? It was the fruit of hours, days, weeks, years of beholding the face of God, looking upon the truth of God revealed in the Law of God. It came of reflecting on that truth as he lay out on the hillsides among his wooly charges. It came of entertaining that truth in his thoughts in the watches of the night, or while lying on his bed. His delight in the display of God’s glory came by beholding that glory.

As it was for David, so it should be for us. The infinite, perfect, and absolute beauty of the glory of God makes gazing upon that beauty the only sane thing to do. To ignore that beauty, to play in the sand or splash in the water while this beauty is being displayed before you is insane.
Sanibel Island sunsets, while a thing of beauty to be enjoyed in their own rite, are ultimately stunning reminders of an infinitely greater glory and a summons to glory in the infinite glory of the infinite One.

Beholding in awe together with you,

Pastor Guy