Monday, December 2, 2013

In Defense of Wanderlust: The World is Beautiful and Amazing

(a Theology of Travel, Part 1)

The world is beautiful and amazing. It teaches us about God. The people in it fascinate, and since they are made His image, each one bears a different lesson for us. If you wallpaper your heart with maps and groan that checking off your bucket list would require an eternity, take heart and read on.

The World is Beautiful and Amazing

On this point, you likely need little convincing.

On Mount Cairn Gorm

From the broadest expanse to the most minute detail, creation points to an infinitely powerful and intelligent Designer with an appreciation of beauty and an eye for detail. 

Hello, Mr. Mollusk!

I'm continually amazed that even while suffering the after-effects of sin's curse, the earth manifests such exquisite loveliness.

Breakfast View

One could even argue that the earth has grown more beautiful because of the curse of sin. After all, according to the popular Creationist hydroplate theory, without the universal Flood, there would be no post-flood catastrophe resulting in the Grand Canyon. There would be no mountains to climb. No separating of the continents. No tilting of the earth on its axis to bring us the structured march of changing seasons. 

Not that I'm arguing in favor of the Fall. No, indeed. The Fall excluded mankind from Eden and drove him from the presence of God. I merely seek to point out an aspect of creation that perfectly demonstrates a key component of God's nature: that He turned the scars of the Flood to additional splendor and glory. 

How typical of Him.

Yes. 

These rocks cry out.

Deep thoughts

The World Teaches Us About the Creator

In the same way that a book could be seen as the reflection of its author or a great work of visual art could be seen as a reflection of the artist, earth can be seen as a reflection of its Creator. Well, not quite in the same way. But although the analogy is slightly flawed, it has its uses. 

Scripture is clear that because God made the earth, it is, to an extent, a reflection of Him. 

Let us push this imperfect analogy further. No writer pines for his work to remain hidden, unread, and forgotten. Rare are the artists who shroud their work, praying to be unknown. In a similar vein, we can assume that since God gave mankind dominion over the world, He intended it for our pleasure and use, and since He has given us all things richly to enjoy, then taking delight in His creation is appropriate and good.

Holyrood Park

C.S. Lewis, the great Romantic apologist, understood this principle well, although he is careful to note that appreciation of nature is not an end in itself:
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which we can hardly put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it... At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. ...Nature is only the first sketch... We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fully reflects. (from "The Weight of Glory")
For the Christian, appreciation of Creation reminds us of what is beyond the veil. It is the seen hinting to us of the unseen.

It is the temporal whispering promises of eternity.

 Christmas Eve Sunrise

Exploring the World is One Way in which to Delight in God's Rich Gifts

Gifts abandoned on the shelf do no one any good. God delights in our satisfaction at His gifts. 

So whenever possible, go delight yourself in the creativity of your God. 

Glory in His splendor.

Exploration

Swim in the deeps. Scorch your feet in the sand. 

Sign of a Good Day #4-5

Shiver on the mountaintops. 

Hinds feet in high places.

Stalk the pine forests. 

Feeling Small

Explore the caves. Descend the valleys. Walk the wastes.

Temple of Doom

Glory in the wonder of it all.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Listen to the Creation's wordless cries. 

Big Sur

Listen for the whisper of His name.


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If concepts in this post strike a chord, I recommend the following:
Also, stay tuned for two more posts in this series:
  • In Defense of Wanderlust: a Theology of Travel, Part 2: The People of the World Are a Mosaic of their Maker
  • In Defense of Wanderlust: a Theology of Travel, Part 3: Your Bucket List for Eternity

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