Have you noticed a butterfly gracefully perched atop a flower or the sound of a bird’s song singing? Have you noticed the depth of the color of the sky, the gentle touch of the breeze on your cheek, or the feel of dew on your feet in the morning? Have you noted how much your eyes and ears take in of the areas around you and what incredible sensory design God has created in each of our five senses, how they serve us throughout each moment of our existence?
I am not sure of what your answer might be and if these are things you observe often or only on vacation or here and there. I miss these things at times as well and it’s not surprising that our attention gets drawn toward a hundred different things. Much of the things that grab our attention come to us on one of the devices we hold in our hand, hang on our walls, or sit on our lap or on a desk. They pull us into work, entertainment, study, and dozens of things that we need to know or want to enjoy, but they also keep our eyes focused on places that can result in us missing the beauty that surrounds us in all its many forms.
Our senses were created and designed by our Creator for so many reasons and we rely on them every moment, but one of the things I wonder if we miss is how God hopes each sensory design will cause us to pause and see beauty, see his creation, and remember Him. Beauty is something we enjoy and yet don’t often recognize how much we need to see beauty in the world around us to refresh us and strengthen us, give us hope and trust in a tomorrow and the earth reborn as it was in Eden before the fall of man. Can we even imagine what the earth was like then?
If we get caught up in the news of the day whether it is over the fence in our yard, on our smart phone, or anywhere else we will forget (if we ever knew) that we are a part of a bigger story and be weakened in hope, resilience, and a capacity to endure what the world, the flesh, and the enemy throws at us.
“The story of God should get more of your ‘attention time’ than any other media.”John Eldredge
That statement of Eldredge’s is one we need to not just read and keep going. What does the expenditure of time look like? Most of us can see reminders on our phones and some other devices about how much screen time we have in any given week and sometimes if we look, we are shocked to see how it adds up. It’s easy to do because we use it for so many things – news, directions with maps, information we need, shopping, games to entertain us, even Bible study plans and so on. If you add up all that along with movies, phone calls, podcasts, and music programs, it adds up quicker than we might expect.
Even if we spend specific time with God each day reminding ourselves of the God story, how much does that add up to compared to everything else? Do we recognize we are living out the God story every single day? And how easily we can forget we are not just physical creatures living in a physical world.
“Christians are designed to live in and enjoy the benefits of two ecosystems, two realities – the physical and the spiritual, the earth and the heavens.
Each world offers graces for human flourishing. The natural world is saturated with beauty, and beauty nourishes the human soul. That’s why we vacation in lovely places – when we’re looking to be renewed, we choose walks in the woods, swimming in the ocean, biking through the vineyards, music, and dinner on the patio under the stars. There are many natural graces that nourish and strengthen the heart and soul – beauty is one, stillness is another, and so are nature and disentangling from technology…”John Eldredge
How on point that observation and since the lockdowns of the pandemic we have craved such beauty in the natural world more than ever. Highways and airport terminals are busier than ever this summer despite the high cost of traveling because we are all seeking these places to regain what we lost over months and months of separation from places and people that mean the most to us.
During these last several years our spiritual lives have been upended as well. For quite some time churches were closed and we tried to adapt to watching pastors teach on a screen and if we are honest, some of us didn’t go back even when we were allowed to do so. Technology allowed us to have that “connection” and yet it wasn’t the same as sitting in a community of believers singing, praying, and listening together. That impacted us and our churches in ways that are still trying to be overcome.
“We are also created to live comfortably in the spiritual world, to draw upon the supernatural graces available to us through the rest of God’s wonderful kingdom.
If you’ve ever experienced the comfort of God, or the love of God, that was heaven coming to you here on earth. You tapped into the rest of God’s kingdom for the help, strength, and sustenance you needed.”John Eldredge
But here is something we must not miss about all we have experienced and are still experiencing – we can’t delay nourishment until we get that idyllic vacation that only happens once a year for most of us. We can’t wait until we have another mountaintop experience at a retreat or a conference we once attended.
There is beauty and nourishment around us right now wherever we are if we look for it, notice it, take it in and allow it to do what God designed it to do – to remind us of the bigger story, the God story. For whatever happens in the next moment, the next hour, week, or year, we cannot wait to replenish what has been eroded. It means we need to pull our eyes away from what so easily can discourage us and notice what God is providing right in this moment.
What have YOU noticed?