How beauty draws us to the Father
Walking through downtown Westport, wearing my bright blue yoga pants and a black hoodie, I stumbled upon a fine arts gallery. At first, I walked right by it; catching only a glimpse of color popping off of the gallery’s bright, white walls. Post-workout and looking a bit scruffy, I felt undeserving to walk in to gaze upon such expensive art work. Yet, my heart couldn’t resist! I was drawn in by the color and wonder of it. I turned back around letting my heart be pulled in by the beauty. The street art made me feel curious and rebellious. It spoke to culture, the artist’s stories, and a blend of embracing the old and welcoming the new. Other art was humorous and straight to the point with text; it made me curious! It made me want more from the artist. One piece brought me to tears because it reminded me of my children. Other pieces popped off the walls with color and brilliant expression.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8
I’ve found that when I’m rushing and my schedule is filled to the brim, I tend to walk right past beauty. At one point in my walk with God, shame prevented me from drawing into His presence. Like avoiding a fancy-schmancy fine arts gallery because you’re dressed in smelly workout clothes.
Think about something beautiful…How might it draw you in? With our eyes we look and see it. Just like art did for me, beauty begs us to come in and linger a while. With our eyes’ gaze, we listen to how it speaks to our soul and to the story it tells of its designer.
If we don’t see the beauty of God, how will our hearts be drawn into His presence? His beauty is seen in nature, creation, and the Holy scriptures. What else might we see that’s reflective of His beauty?
My heart simply cannot resist! My eyes are quickly drawn to beauty in nature. You might catch me stargazing, ocean gazing or even taking in my children’s beauty as they play. To train our hearts to “draw near to God” we must train our minds and eyes to see and sit with beauty. This takes giving beauty a second of our time. There is a reason that humans are attracted to beautiful things. We can see His intentionality throughout all of creation. We must not let our hearts resist entering in. When we notice something beautiful, let it be a doorway to linger and listen for God’s small voice that makes us lean in closer to hear. Listen for what beauty says about God, the way it points to His character. Listen to the way it might connect you to Him and His story of creation, redemption and restoration. How does beauty affect your soul? Does it leave you curious about God or wanting to know more about Him? Does it make you cry? Does it ‘wow’ you with explosive color and creativity? Does it sing a silent melody of His pursuit of your affection?
The rest of the verse goes,
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Well thanks, James. Clearly James wasn’t about people pleasing otherwise it would have read,
“You are doing great, it’s okay if you love Jesus and the world, as long as you keep going to church and washing your hands. Keep it up!”
Clearly, beauty stirs up emotion and makes us feel. Those feelings can cause us to lust, sin, and leave our “first love” for another. My heart loves the Nike “swoosh”, anything that glitters, and the smell of new, name brand jeans. I can easily let those beautiful things become ‘gods’ that only grow greed, pride and neglect of the finances God has entrusted me with.
The feelings we get when we see beauty can also cause us to draw near to God, pointing our heart’s affections back toward the presence of God.
The next time you see something eye-catching I encourage you to look, linger and listen. God has placed beauty everywhere as a way to pursue us. He will never force himself into gaining our attention and affection. He places His love in pockets of beauty all around for us to discover. He pursues you, beloved…and don’t we all long for that?
This is a call to repent (or turn away from) the things that we’ve left him for or that we’ve simply tagged Jesus onto. Nothing will satisfy like Jesus. Go find God in the beautiful, slow, stillness of His glory. Linger in His beauty and any shame or metaphorical weight you’re carrying in will dissolve by the grace of the Gospel.
Give him space and I promise He will fill it.
We pray: Father, open the eyes of our heart to see your beauty and character so we may know you, experience you and make you known! We repent of ____________ that’s clouding our vision from seeing you and drawing close to know you. Help us to live in your love, and be moved by your love to love others.
You have become spiritual adulterers who are having an affair, an unholy relationship with the world. Don’t you know that flirting with the world’s values places you at odds with God? Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy! Does the Scripture mean nothing to you that says, “The Spirit that God breathed into our hearts is a jealous Lover who intensely desires to have more and more of us”? But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us.