Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 23, 2010


Gazing at the beauty of creation can make your soul sing  


Teddy Roosevelt was a wise man. He had a habit of going outside his home at night to look up at the stars. Friends and family members often joined him, gazing into the heavens in silence. After a spell Roosevelt would quietly say, “We can go inside now; I think we are small enough.” Gazing at the stars reminded him of his own finitude and the greatness of the universe.

Stuart Hine did not achieve the fame of Teddy Roosevelt but he too found inspiration in the stars. Hine was the Englishman, born when Roosevelt was 41, who wrote the beloved hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” Hine saw more than a great universe; he saw a great loving God who created the stars.

Known and loved by millions of Christians all over the world, Hine’s words are soul-stirring:  “O Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed.”

 Hine saw the handiwork of God in creation. His marvelous song walks us through the woods and forest glades and allows us to “hear the birds swing sweetly in the trees.” The grandeur of the mountains, water flowing in the brook, and the gentle breeze all invite us to cry out with Hine, “How great thou art”!     

Mama Dean and I planted two Hibiscus plants just outside our front door. Now gorgeous blooms bless us each morning. We have no brook nearby and mountain grandeur is far away, but God speaks to us through the elegant Hibiscus blooms as surely as he spoke to Moses through the burning bush.

The Bible’s King David was also impressed by the beauty of the created world. Many of the Psalms were likely inspired by the glory of star-lit nights as David rested from his shepherding chores. With his sheep bedded down in the fold, David’s heart was pounding with praise for the Creator of heaven and earth.

On one such night these words came flooding from his soul: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Reading the Psalms devotionally enhances our awareness of the glory of the created universe. Now and again a Psalm like Psalm 8 awakens a song in my soul and moves me to “bow in humble adoration” before the great God who gave me life.

The Psalms are songs that cover all the emotions of life. There are songs of lament about pain and evil. There are songs of confession, songs of anguish, songs of hope, and songs of praise. Sometimes David is so filled with awe and wonder that he insists, “I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

David’s awe and wonder spring from his conclusion that only a great benevolent God could have designed the world with such precision, purpose, rhythm, and beauty. There is life-giving water controlled by boundaries engineered by the hands of God. There are majestic mountains, spectacular trees and fertile valleys.

Singing birds have nests in the trees. Grass is provided for the cattle. The earth offers bread and fruit to gladden the hearts of men and women. Even the wild donkeys and wild goats have a habitat. Sustenance is offered to mankind and all living creatures by the gracious hand of God.  

Though the Psalmist is awed by the greatness of God, he never succumbs to despair about the “smallness” of human beings. People are made, the Bible says, in the image of God. So we have power and creativity to manage wisely the “works” of God’s hands and to live as good stewards of his gifts.  

We can find ways to cooperate with the natural laws of the created universe.  NASA engineers were able to land a spaceship on the moon because they could calculate exactly where the moon would be at any given point in time.  Neither God nor his universe is characterized by whimsical decisions. That is why God may be trusted; he is never capricious. He is consistent in everything he does.

Since God is love, it follows that the creative majesty of the world did not happen by chance but by design and for our enjoyment. God made us with the capacity to view with breathtaking wonder the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls and the more common glory of flowers and butterflies.  

Viewing a magnificent sunset we can praise God for giving us eyes to behold such beauty, and hearts that can be touched by the gentle work of his fingers.        Awed by the stunning sight of Iguazu Falls in South America, I began spontaneously praying, “Thank you Lord for loving me so much that you allow me to see this display of your glory with my own eyes.” Such incredible beauty is not the handiwork of “nature;” it is one way the Creator expresses his love for us.   

Geologists can explain why all that Iguazu water converges on the site shared by Brazil and Argentina. Christians can add a theological perspective – that the earth and the heavens display the glory of God for our enjoyment. And the beauty of the earth can move us to “bow with humble adoration” when we consider the awesome love that prompted all creation.  + + +