I am writing this in the middle of the Winter Olympics. It is amazing to see the skill and ability of the athletes as they travel across ice or down snow covered slopes, often at eye watering speeds. Inevitably there are dramatic spills, and fortunately far fewer injuries than might be expected. Some sports like curling are fascinating for the technique and strategy. Yet it is far easier to relate to the ones like downhill skiing or snowboarding which I have been able to enjoy myself over the years, albeit at a far more basic level of expertise! I learned these sports too late in life, and have had too little opportunity to practice, to be even remotely close to the level of the top performers. However the little knowledge I do have enables me to better appreciate the skill and courage it takes to fly down the slopes at speeds of 80 mph or more!
As much as I enjoy the adrenaline rush of skiing down an alpine slope the other element of a skiing holiday that I love is the sheer beauty and grandeur of the surroundings. The mountains, the snow, the sunshine combine to create some of the most breath-taking vistas that I have ever seen. Every ski trip I have been on I have been privileged to take in the most incredible views. Yet a few years ago one morning I looked out of my apartment window and as I looked at the sun rising over the valley below I was overwhelmed by the beauty in a way that I haven’t been either before or since. The only way I can explain it is that I had a sense that God was enjoying me enjoying his creation. It was as though God said to me: “When I created all this I had in mind this day when you would gaze with appreciation on what I have made. I intended for you to delight in the perfection of my creation. Your enjoyment brings me greater satisfaction in my handiwork.”
In that moment I feel that I stumbled upon the sense of wonder expressed by the psalmist who penned Psalm 8 which opens ‘LORD, our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth!’ In the subsequent verses, the writer praises God for different elements of his creation. He points to the glory of the heavens filled with stars and planets. He refers to the variety and beauty of the animal kingdom.
Two things stand out to me in the psalm. Firstly he writes about infants and children who, it seems, respond to the wonder of creation with praise to God. Many people comment upon the beauty of the natural world, but how many fail to make the connection and praise the one who created it?
Secondly the psalmist declares mankind to be the pinnacle of God’s creation. As much as God loves the universe that he has made, His love for people is infinitely greater. The world is uniquely suited among the planets for human life to exist. Yet more than that, He has shown his love by sending Christ his Son to win redemption for us.
So, the next time your breath is swept away by a beautiful landscape, remind yourself that God created it for you to enjoy and give him the glory for what you see. Then, having acknowledged His majestic power, reach out to Him and receive redemption in Christ.