I am on my way back to my car after a day of drawing in downtown Pittsburgh and am intent, like the masses of college students in my way, on finding some dinner. But the open door of St. Paul’s cathedral beckons me. I am a sucker for open churches.
And what a church! I slip into the quiet, finding myself alone in the high-vaulted nave. I put my backpack down on one of the wooden pews and sit. The groan of the wooden bench is the only sound.
Looking up, I immediately start to worship God. I realize that I’m rarely in a building that reminds me of how high and holy he is. This sanctuary is designed to exalt the Lord. And make us feel small. I’m reminded how healthy that is. And how little that happens in the worship I attend.
Philippians 4:8 returns to my mind: Whatever is true… think about these things. This majesty I’m experiencing is truth. God is our high king -- great beyond our imagining. And this sanctuary imagines it well.
On my left, movement in a stained glass window draws my attention. As the early evening sun catches the swaying branches of a tree outside, the shifting shadows seem to animate the glass scene.
Shifting shadows. This also is what it means to be true: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17) God is consistent. He is reliable. His traits are not only wholly true – there is no Hollywood façade to the cathedral of his majesty – they are unchangingly true. Eternally true.
The next day, I find myself before three paintings by Monet, in an exhibit in the Carnegie Art Museum. All three are of the Waterloo Bridge in London. Apparently, he began over 40 versions of the bridge, spanning three visits to the city.
The same view. But quite different treatments. For Monet was interested in the richness of the moment – how the changing light alters our experience of the structure.
His dedication amazes me. How could he not become bored painting the same bridge over and over?
I realize that the answer is like worship. The bridge remained true and unchanging, but his perception of it was constantly fresh. Likewise, our vision of an immutable God is invigorated by each facet of what is true about him.
He is the high Majesty enthroned before the praises of heaven.
And he is the dying Savior bowed down under the weight of our sin.
The light of truth is inexhaustible.
Great and holy God, loving Father and dying Savior, true in all you are and do – we hunger to know all the nuances of your being. We will never tire of learning more of you!
Readers: What facet of God’s character is on your mind today?
Tell me about it.