My wife and I are walking a rail trail half an hour from our home. (Question: how much does a trail have to go up and down in order for it to be a hike?) It’s early enough that the valleys on the drive cradle wispy fog. The forest itself is still murky, but patches of it are spotlighted by the sun.
One tree glows – a burning bush without the voice.
In Isaiah 6, we get a glimpse of the throne, where we see heavenly beings singing before God, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The second part of that is a fascinating truth. To me, it’s an invitation. A puzzle to solve. Where do I see his glory revealed?
Sometimes, like when the sun illuminates a tree, or a single leaf growing out of a dark trunk, it’s obvious. Nature presents God’s glory, especially when on display in dramatic light. But Scripture teaches that nature itself reacts to glory revealed in a different exhibition.
22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.”
23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this;
shout aloud, you earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel. (Isaiah 44:22-23)
We humans craft poems, paint landscapes and compose hymns to express our joy over nature’s beauty. But God commands nature to burst into song about us – the redeemed, the objects of his saving grace.
The goal of our walk was to reach a tunnel, formerly for a railway. And as we approached it, I thought about how we’re in a dark time right now, particularly about seeing God’s glory in his people. There is still so much disconnection between us – both physical distance and, far too often, angry divisiveness.
On the far side of the tunnel, we found this beautiful view. It’s a reminder for me that in my process of looking for the glory of God in the world around me (the heart of 8:18) I need to add people to my landscape.
For as breathtaking as an autumnal stream can be, God says that his work in redeeming and transforming humans through his Son is the real wonder.
How do I add those people? One thing Alison and I are doing is setting up a weekly video call we have named Dinner With Friends. (Giving things titles is one of our quirks.) During it, we “share” a meal with distant friends, eager to hear about how God is working in their lives. It’s amazing how much the calls fill up our hearts.
But that’s what glory does. When you take time to look for it.
Father, you have made us to crave beauty and glory because, like a magnet, it draws us back to you. Show us your glory in the world around us – not only in the loveliness of nature, but through your redeemed people.
Reader: Where have you recently seen God’s glory on display?