My wife, Melanie, and I have loved the chance to occasionally vacation in the Caribbean. At times I have stood in scenic spots overlooking the ocean, with my camera in hand. I’ve felt overwhelmed by the majestic beauty that surrounds me. Blue, crystal clear water stretches out to the horizon until it becomes impossible to tell where the water stops and the sky begins. White, powdery beaches reach as far in both directions as the eye can see. Picturesque palm trees lean forward with fronds reaching out to the water as if they too desperately want to feel the lapping waves. A gentle breeze that seems to promise to breathe youth into any person who will inhale its ocean fragrance. Do you have the sense of what I’m describing?
Now, imagine at those moments that I lift a fifteen dollar disposable camera to my face so that I can take a picture and capture the beauty that lies before and around me. I don’t want to lose this moment. I love it and I want to seize it on film. I want to pull the total impact of everything I’m experiencing at the moment through that camera’s lens and take it home with me on a 3×5 photograph. I want to go home, look at this picture and feel exactly what I’m feeling as I stand on the beach at that moment.
Do you think it will happen? Of course not. A snapshot could never do justice to the beauty. It’s only a minuscule representation of what I’ve seen, but it just can’t do it justice. It can only remind me of the beauty of the moment, it can’t duplicate it. The beauty is simply bigger than any camera can capture.
That’s how it is when we try to see the beauty of Jesus through a religious lens. He is the personification of God’s love – a love much too big to be contained by religion. Consequently He reveals Himself in religious and nonreligious ways. For instance, the Bible says that “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Clouds aren’t religious. The blue sky isn’t religious. So God doesn’t only communicate through church-talk, but also through cloud-talk. These are only two of His many dialects.
Touched by a German poem written in 1050 about the love of God, Frederick Lehman wrote in my favorite hymn:
Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the oceans dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
The means by which God declares His love and presence are without limit. Many ancient saints understood themselves to be living in a “God-bathed” world. If we want to deeply experience intimacy with Him, it helps immeasurably to view the world in the same way. Our Divine Lover reveals Himself in many ways. Jesus is whispering to you right now, every day, in a thousand ways and many of them aren’t religious. We need only to be watching and aware.
This devotional is an excerpt from Steve McVey’s book, The Godward Gaze, to be released in July by Harvest House Publishers. To be notified when the book is released, send us an email and we’ll contact you.