God’s Glory Writ Large…and How We Miss It.

The sun reaches down to touch the peak of Cold Mountain, VA–Photo by the author.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

–Psalm 19

Photo by the author

LHP’s blog is about writing fiction.  For fantasy and sci-fi lovers, that almost always means world creation–pouring ourselves into a new universe, planet, country, or characters who become our way of communicating good, meaningful stories to our readers.  As Tolkien has observed, we are emulating the Great Creator in microcosm.  All authors expect others to see our hand in our creations and to appreciate our creativity for what it is.  It is ironic, then, that we often find it impossible to see the evidence of God in the world around us.  That is, perhaps, because we’ve replaced His glory with our own poor imitations.

Our culture seems to be increasingly deaf to the music and obtuse to the poetry writ into the very fabric of reality.  We look at it all and walk away more convinced than ever that humanity is the measure of all things, the final judge of reality, and the author of all that is meaningful and significant.  How can this be?

As I mentioned in my Friday post, I’ve been learning quite a bit about life since I’ve taken up hiking in the Virginia mountains.  With each trip, I hear more of the wordless speech mentioned by David in the psalm above.  I am reminded of who I am and my place in the universe is put into perspective with increasing clarity.  I am overwhelmed by the beauty and power instilled into everything, and I wonder how I missed it all, just a few months before!

Photo by the author

There are a number of reasons, but a simple one occurred to me as I stood on a peak today. The average westerner is brought into the world immersed in the works of humanity, and we can live our entire lives “safely” inside the cacophony that humanity creates.  I spend my days surrounded by things that testify to the creativity and ingenuity of man–the bed I slept in, the car I drive, the building I work in, the music I listen to, the computer I use, the television I watch, etc. etc.

While all of those things are interesting and worthwhile in their own way, they pale in comparison to being exposed to the creativity with which Nature is rife.  But for most of us, we never realize how insignificant human accomplishments truly are because we never see beyond them.  To beggars who have never tasted a feast, a hard crumb with only a little mold is a thing to be envied.

Photo by the author

Worse, all the noise constantly reminds us of just how “good”, how “ingenious” we humans are.  That of course is something we never really tire of hearing and therefore there is always someone willing to take up the tired chant, and someone else ready to praise them for it!  That has the same effect as good propaganda–we never think to question the status quo when “everyone” says that the status quo is all we ever need experience.  It becomes the simple and “obvious” choice to worship humanity, when we have never been exposed to anything greater or higher to worship.  (And that makes us easy prey for tyrants.)

As you think about it, make an effort to hear the Word writ large in the world around you.  Watch the sky when you step outside; listen to the wind and the birds; take a look at how intricate a tree or a plant is.  Even better, make some plans to go somewhere humanity can’t get in the way!  Once you really understand it, the world just won’t be the same…but that’s a good thing.

Photo by the author.

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About Brian

I am a history professor and author living with my family in the Virginia Mountains. It's hard to improve on a life like this!

Posted on October 14, 2012, in Brian Melton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Meditations, Photography, Social Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. It does help put things in perspective to do this. I was staring up at the stars last night and have taken to looking at the beautiful skies. I’ve been to the mountains of Virginia many times this year as well. To say the least, it’s been a very trying year and it helps so much just to see the very present visual reminders of God’s glory all around us.

  2. Brian, I loved your post! A thunderstorm is receding as I enter these words and the birds, which had been silent during the storm, have resumed their singing just as the last growls of thunder can be heard in the distance. One of those birds is chirping distinctly, “Break-bread-with-Frederick!” (I am at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda, to teach a four week module to graduate nursing students, my third trip.) A gecko skittered in and out again beneath the door: he is, as Ugandans say, “most welcome.” I so wish more of our contemporaries could be tuned in to the extravagant and hilarious beauty all around us.

  3. AMEM and AMEN!!!!
    Photos are beautiful and words are inspirationally chosen to make us aware.
    More than once I have almost run off the road looking at clouds, skies and sunsets when headed home. What glorious blessings from our Father.
    (have resolved to do better about watching the road–especially when others are in my vehicle– again blessings from the Father in keeping me and others safe)

  4. Spot on. One further consequence of living in a man-made world: man-made things are constantly being improved and replaced. When your environment is totally technological, as with those who are never unplugged, you are surrounded by things that are changing and impermanent. Is it any wonder that secularism, relativism, etc., flourish in the modern urban world? Light pollution blots out half the glory the heavens declared to David, even if you don’t live in the city. We must be proactive in reconnecting with Nature and teaching our children to do so, or we will succumb.

  1. Pingback: Living Your Book: Terrain and Experiencing It | Lantern Hollow Press

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