Imagine Yourself in the Presence of the King
Imagine yourself in the presence of the King of Creation.
Imagine the majestic environment – the rarefied air, trees bustling with beauty and dignity – an atmosphere encased in a feeling of delight and joy!
Imagine sinking your teeth into a delectable piece of fruit, soaked with the fullness of life and the freshness of His touch.
Just beyond the horizon, you spy a crowd of animals: healthy and vibrant, on glorious display – marching in rhythm – beneath the base of distant majestic mountain ranges, too beautiful for the heart to fully behold.
Now imagine the King of this astounding place, in the midst of these astonishing surroundings, calling you to come near.
From among all of the beautiful creatures around you, He’s selected you!
You Are Blessed, Child!
His eyes hold your gaze and, with no need of words, you hear Him say,
“Child, you are good. I take delight in you! You are blessed among all you see. Go forth and tend, from your giftedness, this creational gift of delight! Go forth in this delight – my delight – and share my delight with everyone you meet.”
You are thrilled but slightly bewildered by the sensory overload you’re experiencing.
Pausing, you ask, “Father, what is this emotion I feel? What is this thing that’s got a grip on me?”
The Father, never diverting His eyes, always holding your gaze, replies:
“Delight has a hold on you, child. You are experiencing delight and joy. This experience is birthed from the beauty within and all around you. It is the beauty that’s pouring forth from Me and going into you! Again, I invite you: Go forth in this delight – my delight – and cultivate the type of life that will help your experience become the experience of others!”
While entirely imaginative, the above account illustrates, in my humble opinion, the type of experience into which human life was initially birthed.
As such, it continues to be an experience we long to taste and feel today.
When Delight is Delayed
But, if you ask someone to describe moments of joy and delight, they’d likely be hard pressed to name more than a few.
If anything the opposite is true. We more often experience sensations such as discord and disharmony than we do joy and delight.
This is true in nearly every arena or sphere of life!
For example, consider the sampling below. As you do, try to recall how often you’ve experienced delight or joy, as opposed to conflict and strife, in these moments.
- In your home?
- Around your neighborhood?
- Your larger community?
- While in school?
- While a work?
- In the political arena?
- At church, or in the sanctuary, or synagogue?
- While driving?
Delight is defined as being satisfied, gratified, or entirely content. To delight is to receive a high (perhaps the highest) degree of pleasure or joy.
If we are ever to take delight in someone or thing, it is because we first believe that someone or something is good and beautiful! In fact, experiencing delight or joy is, typically, an experience that catches us off guard.
In other words, it’s not an experience one simply pencils into one’s day.
And, while we cannot plan it into our day, in a manner of speaking, we can cultivate a way of life from which moments of delight are more the norm than an anomaly!
To Behold is To Become
By exploring and experiencing the vast beauty of God and habituating ourselves to the beauty He has implanted in every nook-and-cranny of creation!
Another way to say it might be: we cultivate our lives in such a way that a sense of joy and delight become normative when we focus, reflect, and meditate on the beauty of God and the Majesty of His goodness within and all around us.
When commenting on the power of focusing or meditating on beauty itself, C.S. Lewis writes, in Weight of Glory:
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be 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.”
In other words, when we behold beauty – notably the beauty of God – we become what we behold even as we behold what we become.
An Overflow of Good into the Contours and Curves of Life
The practical ramifications for daily living couldn’t be more impressive.
This dynamic and unending circle of becoming what we behold and beholding what we become then spills out into the contours and curves of life. It’s not that we become people who pretend that hardships are not real and the agony is not severe.
Instead, in the moment of hardship and seasons of agony, it’s to embody the beauty of God that we behold so that His beauty still shines through us into the difficulty and pain!
This is the crux of living in the Kingdom. As disciples, we behold the beauty of God in a way that we become the beauty we behold. As we do, His beauty then holds us (quite literally) when we are unable to hold ourselves.
Moving From Control to the Kingdom
When we cannot control anger, His beauty becomes the light that outshines the darkness!
The moments we feel powerless in the face of our addictions, His beauty is the light that outshines the darkness.
The times when we are overlooked, ignored, underpaid, exhausted, unloved, or mocked, His beauty (which we are continually striving to behold) becomes the light that outshines the darkness.
The most magnificent reality that laces all of these strings of beauty together is that the gift of beauty (which births delight and joy) is one of the Signature Affections of God! Yes, when He first began this magisterial work of creation, beauty was the primary outcome. It’s pinnacle being you and me!
Back to Our Original Question: Can I Ever Really Change?
Coming full circle now, several weeks into the New Year, the question of “Can I Ever Really Change,” should take on an entirely different posture.
Indeed, it’s not if I can change, but the way in which I am pursuing change. Most attempts at reform tend to begin and end with the almighty I.
Lasting change begins and ends with the almighty Thou!
Only as we experience God as beauty and experience the beauty He has planted within and all around us, will we experience change.
Surprisingly, it may even be a type of change you never thought you needed or even sought.
I am sure of this: All lasting change begins and ends in God.
Not just any God.
The God of beauty, who created from His beauty and invites us to create in His beauty.
This is the Gospel message, and the hope of the Gospel is the hope of restoring the beauty of God’s love that we’ve distorted with the brutality of self-love.
Let me ask you: What (or Who) are you beholding these days?
Disrupting to Renew!