The Little Fulla (my four-year-old) and I were having breakfast. He was telling me about what he’d been learning about how God made the world. So I read the story of creation to him from Genesis. I explained about how God had created a beautiful world for us because that’s how much he loves us. Leaning over, The Little Fulla said, “Look out the window.” I saw our eldest cat sitting in the garden, watching birds and I said, “Yeah, Nala’s sitting in the garden.” The Little Fulla, still staring out the window, replied, “But look at the world.”
It was profound. The sun was rising, the clouds were starting to colour, the outlines of the bare winter trees framed the skies, birds jumped around in the camellia tree, smothered in white flowers, and the grass was green and flourishing, something that should not be taken for granted after a drought.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:31
… “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” – Isaiah 6:3
Sometimes we can be so focused on what’s right in front of us that we forget the bigger picture. We forget that God has given us beautiful things to enjoy, we forget that exciting things are happening when his kingdom comes and his will is done on earth, we forget that there is more than what we are currently experiencing or feeling. Our attention is drawn to the obvious.
Life is a gauntlet of things that can distract or delay us from God’s plans and his glory. They are not always bad things; sometimes they are just the most obvious things in our vision. God is not characterised by what first catches the eye. He is characterised by a big, mysterious, hope-filled, thrilling picture overflowing in its abundance. Are you trying to do this puzzle with him or are you staring at the imperfections on the shelf?
I really like having a view of hills or mountains. The trouble is, there’s only one little glimpse of the top of a hill that you can see from inside my house – out the biggest window by the dining table. I originally chose to sit in the chair by that window so I could see the garden and enjoy looking at it. After cutting down some trees, one day I realised, with great joy, that I could see the hills. Just. Now if the neighbours could prune a few branches off that tree I would be able to see just a little bit more of that hill…
“Why do I like looking at hills and mountains so much?” I asked God. I like the form of them; the lines they make against the sky, the slopes and the ridges. But do you know what God said? It’s about having something to looks at that’s further away from where you are. I love that. It is so true. The hills are an epitomy of God to me: something that stands still and steady despite all the chaos that can carry on at ground level, something that reminds me that this is not the end. This is not all that there is. There is more to discover on this journey. There is something bigger, higher than me and my smallness makes me appreciate that. When I look at hills, wherever I am, I am always reminded of this scripture:
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord , who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2
Now, in my ideal scenario, the hills might look a bit more like this… But I’ll take delight in whatever I can get.
There are so many more scriptures that also echo these sentiments.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord , and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] – Psalm 145:10-13
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:1-2
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:28-29
You see, it’s not just about looking to our gardens. While it is our responsibility to look after, with God’s help, the garden that is our own life, it is not helpful to get bogged down in the small details of it. If we lift our eyes we can remember that God has more for us than what is currently in front of us and more for everyone else too. God is steadfast, he is active and he has established his throne far above what we can see, from where he reigns over all.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. – Psalm 103:15-19
If you’re feeling like your eyes are locked onto a current reality that is making you feel stuck, anxious or discouraged, get encouraged. Choose people, music, videos and books that build you up and encourage you with the richness, the beauty and the excitement of the life that God has for you right now. If you can’t see it, search for it. And don’t stop there; ask God how you can be an encouragement to others.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
- What’s getting your attention at the moment? What are you missing?
- Are you trying to help God do his big, mysterious, hope-filled, thrilling puzzle overflowing in its abundance or are you staring at the imperfections on the shelf?
- What can you do to keep your mind focused on God’s plans and his glory?
- Go somewhere outdoors, take some time to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and thank him for it.
All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.