By Advait Praturi | email@example.com
In 2009, I was hiking up to North Dome at Yosemite National Park in California, with a couple of guys. We began at the very base of Yosemite Valley and made our way up about what seemed like a million miles of zigzags and steep inclines.
For me, this trek was nothing short of arduous. After 6 hours of carrying a pack with a tent, foodstuffs, sleeping bag, clothes and snowshoes, I was done. I felt bad about holding back my buddies who were pressing forward like the trailblazers they were as I stumbled upwards from around one bend to the next. It was easy to see who the weak link was.
But after finally making it to the top after an 8-hour uphill trek, we came face to face with a scene that made everything worth it. Looking over the beautifully etched rocky crags of the Sierra Nevada and its widespread coniferous forests in the fading sunset, we had come face to face with beauty. I can’t forget it. Those moments are seared into your memory.
For those of us that live in the city, there’s a reason we spend thousands every years to take a vacation. Have you ever thought about it? Why do we spend so much money to go somewhere outside of the city – either to the mountains or the beach? Most of the time, we’re just sitting or reading a book or chatting with friends or eating food. That’s all stuff we can do right here. We go on vacations for the experience – for that feeling of rest from the mundane and the hectic or that feeling of “Ah! This is so beautiful!”
Our hearts are designed that way; we are meant to be blown away by beauty.
Admiration and adoration are key parts of being human, and they are essential to our nature. There’s nothing wrong with admiring nature, someone’s talent, someone’s abilities, body shape etc. Something is wrong with it, however, when we ascribe so much value to it that we feel we need to acquire it to validate our identity.
If at any point, we are saying “I will only have value and worth if I had – let’s say – athletic muscularity or a fit body or that talent or this ability,” then we’re in trouble.
We were never meant to find our identities – our value and worth - in what we possess, have, own or show.
Admiration is always meant to lead us back to the beauty of God. Nature is beautiful because God created it. The human body is beautiful because God created it. Our talents and abilities are worthy of admiration because God enabled them. A brand new car can be worthy of admiration because of its design – developed by a designer whom God blessed with imagination.
All things worthy of admiration – including imagination, prowess, and beauty - come from God. It’s when we make the created object the focal point of our attention and our desire that we end up replacing God in our lives for a cheaper imitation of Him.
God is described throughout the Scripture as one who holds this incredible beauty, allure and mystery. John and Isaiah try to describe what they see with words, when they encounter Him in the throne room. They describe a Great Being surrounded by a dark cloud blazing with lightning and rumbling with thunder. They capture with words the throne of God, that sits upon an endless sea of glass, illuminated by living colors that dance around Him, as angels and humans and all creatures sing in a deep and loud chorus, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” And with each passing moment, these humans and angels are subjected to a newer and deeper and more beautiful revelation of God. With each passing second, His infinite greatness becomes even more greater, His infinite beauty more beautiful, and His infinite kindness more full of love and joy.
Yeah, try wrapping your head around that.
Words can’t describe the beauty of this God – so full of beauty and of magnificence. He is transcendent and beyond. He created the tiniest atoms, composed of even smaller particles. Every quark in every nucleus is accounted for in the Throne Room. And He created every planet within every solar system within every galaxy within every hyper cluster of galaxies in the known universe. He knows the intimate details of the electrons in your earphones and each and every star in MACS0647-JD, the farthest known galaxy from earth.
To all this, a young king David rightfully asks,“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
That’s the beauty, isn’t it? That’s why He’s so worthy of our admiration and adoration. God doesn’t remain distant from us – though He seems so high and lofty in His magnificence and transcendence.
He actually wants to draw near to us, and because of Jesus, He takes on a new form – Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. He is worthy of adoration because for some reason – through some great mystery – God loves all men and women and desires to extend His love and kindness to each and every person.
But that kind of kindness is something we have to choose to approach. As God draws near to us, we must draw near to Him – which brings us back full circle to the beginning. If we’re too busy focusing all our admiration and attention onto ‘created things’ – onto things we want to acquire on this earth, we’ll have missed an encounter with His kindness and love today.
This is why worship is so important. Worship puts God back at the center of our attention, focus and lives. That’s why we need to do it everyday. In that place, we experience the kind of loving-kindness that transforms our entire day from dreary and mundane to one of bright possibility.
Take a second right now to stop and step back. Take a minute to refocus on what really matters. Try to focus all your attention on God. Maybe go and find a quiet place. Play some music that reminds you of His presence. It doesn’t have to be Christian music – just anything that will allow you to think about Him. And remind yourself of this fact – God Most High – the One who Creates Galaxies – cares about every intimate detail of your life and will see you through today. Remind yourself of it. Preach it to yourself out loud if you have to. (Just make sure you’re alone in the room ;) )
That act of refocusing on God in praise and adoration is worship. I’m willing to bet it will make a huge difference to your day.
The author is on staff at NLF Avatar. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org