One evening just a few weeks ago, our three children and I drove through the streets of our gracious city, beneath the ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss, past sparkling fountains in peaceful squares, and by whimsical gates guarding hidden gardens tucked behind stately homes. We eventually reached the church, where our children hopped out and headed for youth group while I parked and greeted the welcoming faces of old friends and entered with them into the church where they had come to choir practice for the coming Sunday.
Instead of joining the choir, I turned into a quiet sitting room with tasteful decor, and an antique divan where I settled down with my Bible and my journal to wait for our children.
My attention was riveted by the beautiful reflected light of the setting sun through the picture windows as it melted the room into a mellow gold. A blended harmony of voices rose across the hall, mounting in crescendo, as the choir sang a victorious hymn of faith.
My heart filled with wonder and awe at all of this beauty. After being out of the country for so long, I felt dry, thirsty to drink it all in; all this natural beauty, the architectural beauty, the beauty of familiar faces and of this glorious music. But at the same time, my wonder was mixed with sadness. I began to pour out my grief to God. It was sadness at the thought of soon leaving again all of this beauty that I love so dearly to return to our work in the Philippines.
It was at that moment that the choir began to sing the immortal lines from the great hymn of the Reformation, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God: “Let goods and kindred go!” and, “His kingdom is forever!” My heart just about stood still, marveling at the timing. And before I could even sort out what it all meant, the director brought the practice to a halt, instructing the choir to sing those exact lines over again. “Let goods and kindred go…” “His kingdom is forever!”
God knew that I needed to hear those very words, and to hear them repeated. I needed the reminder that I wasn’t created just to soak up and enjoy the beauties of this earth. I was created first to glorify God, to praise Him for His great beauty. And I’ve been entrusted with this honored commission to share the beauty of the Lord with others, so that they too can glorify Him forever.
All this earthly good that I’ve been enjoying during our six months back here in the US is very good; it is worthy of my notice and my heart-felt thanksgiving! But each one of these beautiful things I enjoy is really just a pale reflection of the infinitely greater beauty of our Savior.
Tolstoy once wrote, "It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness." Maybe God's greater goodness does not always take the form of beautiful earthly things.
I want to be sincerely willing to let these goods and my kindred go, in order that more people on earth might see more of God’s great beauty, and that they might be able to worship Him as He is due, and enjoy Him forever. He alone is worthy.
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.