Saturday, March 5, 2022

Outdoor Object Lesson 115: Seeing the Sublime

Listen to this lesson in my podcast Gleams of the Morning.

Key Text

“His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭26:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Have you ever stood atop an overlook and seen the heart stopping beauty of a sunrise or sunset? The deep reds and yellow are unrivaled by any painter. In college I had the fortune to go on a mission trip to the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The last morning I and a friend hiked to the peak of a mountain to watch the sun rise. We set out in complete darkness and had to hike for nearly and hour. The trail was steep and winding. At points the trail wound along a knife edge peak with sheer drops on either side of the narrow two-foot wide trail. 

As we rose higher the fog enshrouded us so that we could only see a few steps ahead. Flashlights were useless as the fog scattered the light so much the trail became harder to see. The dawn light grew steadily as we climbed higher up the peak. At the summit the wind cleared some of the fog and we could see a deep valley before us facing East. However the horizon was completely shrouded by stewy fog. 

This was the only morning I had awakened early enough to see a sunrise. I prayed that God would grant me the blessing of seeing the majesty I had only witnessed in pictures—a Hawaiian sunrise. I little expected God to answer that simple prayer. Yet, God had already answered several prayers on our trip with clear and direct miracles. A few minutes after my prayer, the wind picked up. I watched as it blew the fog. The fog did not all dissipate, but instead a kind of tunnel appeared. Thought it shown the top of the sun that was peaking over the ocean horizon. We stood for maybe 15 minutes until the sun was up into the sky. Not long after, the fog descended again to completely cover the sky. 

To this day I have never experienced a more beautiful sunrise. Nothing will compare with that one where God pull back the foggy curtain just so I could marvel at his creation. 

Are humans the only creatures that can appreciate beauty? Bears have been recorded sitting at points overlooking mountain or river vistas for hours looking at the scene. Some scientists have theorized they could be appropriating the beauty like humans.1 Other creatures seem to have an aesthetic sense also. Birds appreciate music produced by human instruments just as readily as by their own kind. They also appreciate bright and colorful displays. Humans can correctly pick out the males most likely to be selected as mates based on the brightness of their feathery array. 

Sir David Attenborough pointed this out in a lecture he gave titled Beauty and the Beasts. He said, “To me it is a delight to think we share and take pleasure in much the same sorts of things as our birds and butterflies and mammals and many other creatures in the world.”2 And I agree with him. It seems natural that God would have given other creatures the ability to enjoy all the beauty he has placed in creation. There is nothing else in nature that lets us glimpse the majesty and artistry of the Creator than the sublime. 

Here is a question to ponder. Will you ask God this week to reveal himself through the beauty and grandeur he placed in nature for you to see?

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: Aloha_Mahalo vis