The great George Strait sings a song entitled, “Where Have I Been All My Life.” The last verse reads:
“I heard ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong
It brought a tear to my eyes
After all these years, I finally get that song
Where have I been all my life”
“Where Have I Been All My Life” captures the sentiment I often feel as I deepen my relationship with the Lord and grow in my love for Him. Sometimes, He kindly reminds me of the same lessons He has taught me from an early age. At other times, however, He reveals Himself to me in new ways and teaches me lessons that make me think, “Where have I been all my life?”
For centuries, Christians have spoken of the three transcendentals: truth, goodness, and beauty. I have spent years learning about the truth of God’s Word and the concepts of a biblical worldview. I understand that truth is rooted in the character of God and why all truth is God’s truth. Likewise, I understand goodness as related to the nature of God and His creative purposes.
Sadly, for me, beauty has long been an attribute of the Lord that I’ve failed to recognize and genuinely appreciate. Pragmatism, functional capacity, purpose, and busyness have robbed me of one of the Lord’s greatest gifts. It is as if I’ve gone to the gym and only focused on my upper body strength to the detriment of my lower body. My legs atrophy by comparison. My appreciation of beauty has gone undeveloped for far too long. (The historical and philosophical reasons why my evangelical upbringing did not emphasize beauty is a point worth exploring on another day.)
Contrary to popular belief, beauty is not determined by the eye of the beholder. All truth is God’s truth. All goodness is God’s goodness, and all beauty is God’s beauty. Truth and goodness point us toward what is truly beautiful. In all this, we should be led to “see the King in his beauty” (Isaiah 33:17), for there is no one or nothing more beautiful than Christ!
Now, before you dismiss what I’m sharing as too philosophical, consider what David desired most of all:
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
What is the “one thing” he longed for most? To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Think about the hundreds of good things he could have desired, yet his greatest desire was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.
In Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the bishop who gifted candlesticks to Jean Valjean kept a garden behind his home. Hungry and in need of more food, his servant encouraged the bishop to dig up the small plot of flowers in the garden and instead to plant more vegetables:
Madame Magloire once said to him in a kind of gentle reproach, ‘Monseigneur, you are always eager to make everything useful, yet here is a useless plot. It would be much better to have salads there than bouquets.’ ‘Madame Magloire,’ the bishop replied, ‘you are mistaken. The beautiful is as useful as the useful.’ He added after a moment’s pause, ‘Perhaps more so.’”
Every day offers new opportunities to witness the beauty of God. Just this week, I have seen the beauty of the Lord through Venus in the night sky, the prayers of grandchildren for their grandfather, the prose within classic literature, a homecooked meal with family, Beethoven’s 9th symphony, a friend’s handwritten note, and so much more.
As Philip Ryken says: “Our loving Lord gives us these varied glimpses of intrinsic beauty to awaken in us a transcendent, expectant desire that will be fully and finally satisfied when we gaze into the face of Jesus Christ.”
Where have I been all my life?
See you on Sunday,
Blake serves as Elder and Lead Pastor at Watermark Community Church.