Getting a new commander can be a little scary.
Let’s say the new commander arrives. You find out that he drives an old Ford Bronco painted camouflage. You walk into his office and he’s fixed it up to look like the TOC (tactical operations center) for a FTX (field training exercise). He’s got his desk and chair draped in camouflage ponchos. He’s got camouflage netting suspended from his ceiling with 550-cord. His only furniture consists of rusty folding chairs. He’s always dressed in his cammies. He works long hours and never seems to go home. Then you find out he’s never married and has no family.
What kind of vibes does this send you? You probably sense that your new commander has no life outside the military. You get the idea that in his every waking moment he lives and breathes the military. And he probably expects the same devotion to duty from his subordinates. Forget about pleasure. Life is strictly utilitarian. If your pursuits do not contribute to your branch’s mission, then they have no value. Forget about comfort, for “No Pain-No Gain!” and “pain is weakness leaving the body!”
On the other hand, maybe your new commander drives a sporty car, has pictures of his wife and kids and other family photos on his desk. Then you see Seattle Mariners and Seahawks memorabilia adorning his walls. Perhaps you get to speak with your commander, and he asks you about a good place to go for a hike, go rafting, or fun places to take a family. Doesn’t this let you know your new commander has outside interests and that he believes there is life outside the military? Doesn’t it tell you that he doesn’t expect his subordinates to sell their souls or be married to the military?
Now, look at God’s workplace – His creation. Do all things exist for strictly utilitarian purposes? Has God made His “office” an austere-looking place? Do trees only bear drab-looking, but nutritional, fruit? No. They explode in beautiful blossoms. Even prickly pear cactus and many other cacti produce stunning flowers that delight the human eye with brilliant colors. They seem to exist for the purpose of giving pleasure and delight, as well as attracting bees for the purpose of pollination.
Fluffy white clouds against the deep blue heaven spend far more time adorning the sky for our pleasure than they do giving rain. The starry night certainly serves the purposes of navigation and measuring time. But for the vast majority of humanity, the stars give beauty and inspiration. They draw us out of ourselves and our petty problems and remind us that God created all things – not simply for utilitarian purposes, but for our pleasure and delight as well.
Beauty and pure delight fill God’s world – and He gave us the capacity to appreciate and enjoy it.
These are all God’s reminders that He is not a spoilsport and is certainly not interested in depriving us of what is good or dashing our dreams. The vibes we get from God are that He loves us and wants to know Him and enjoy His love forever. God’s message through all the beauty and delight of His Creation is this, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Dear Father in heaven, I have wasted so much time focused on the evil and suffering in this world. I’ve been preoccupied with all the twisted schemes and deeds of humanity. Open my eyes to the millions of love messages You send me through the beauty of the earth. Amen.