One more week on deadline with my novel! It’s a pleasure to share this heartfelt post by author Emily Conrad. Emily has been featured in Southern Writer’s Magazine and her debut novel, Justice, from Pelican Book Group, is two months old this week and garnering stellar reviews! Congratulations and welcome, Emily!
A Guest Post by Emily Conrad
The beauty of the gilded sunset clouds, the soaring freedom of birds, and the turquoise of glacial mountain lakes light me through with wonder and joy.
Like David expresses in the Psalms, I see God at work and signs of who He is in nature.
O Lord, your loyal love reaches to the sky;
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your justice is like the highest mountains,
Your fairness like the deepest sea;
You preserve mankind and the animal kingdom. (Psalm 36:5-6, NET)
Similes like these help us better understand some of God’s attributes. But I noticed that by focusing on nature a little too much, I began to underestimate God.
I can stare at a sunset for a while, but then I’m happy to go home. I love to hike in mountains, but if that’s all I did every day, I would get bored. And tired. Oh! Stargazing by Grand Teton National Park? Amazing! Yet it didn’t keep us out longer than half an hour.
I’m not alone in this. According to this article from the Chicago Tribune, the average time spent looking at the Grand Canyon—the Grand Canyon!—is 17 minutes.
So I’m not the only one who doesn’t spend hours staring into some of the most beautiful scenery—despite my claim of loving it.
Yet, sometimes as we experience what we consider a blissful moment in nature, enjoying, say a warm beach and glistening waves, we think to ourselves that this is as good as it gets. This is paradise.
And then we use that same word to describe what Heaven is going to be like. Heaven, God’s throne, as Isaiah 66:1 says. Where we’ll be face-to-face with the Creator.
The fact that we use the same word for both is one example of how we—or I, at least—sometimes fall into equating the best God has to offer me with the best of what I’ve experienced on earth.
The wonderful truth is, He is so much better, and His presence is much, much sweeter than any earthly paradise.
He is, after all, its Maker.
My help comes from the Lord,
The Creator of heaven and earth!
Psalm 121:2 (NET)
I’m a maker myself, though of a much smaller, less intricate world. A fictional one. In my novel Justice, I used my own perfectionist tendencies to flesh out the heroine, Brooklyn. So if you read the book, you’ll learn a lot about me. But you still won’t know all of me. For example, as a dog lover, I’m not sure how none of the characters—not one!—have a pet. Not even a fish.
If there’s much more to me, a human creator, than I pour into my creation, how much more of the infinite God is left to experience, even if we see every inch of His created world?
Quite a bit.
Psalm 19:1 tells us the heavens declare the glory of God.
Just because we’ve heard something declared doesn’t mean we’ve experienced the full extent of how great it is for ourselves.
For example, if you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I can tell you about it. Verses from Psalms are printed on plaques along the trial. Shadows of clouds sweep across the landscape, changing the shades of rocks and shrubs and the river. The landscape is so big and wide that it gets kind of hazy looking in pictures.
But hearing all that, you won’t feel the same awe you would if you were to spend your seventeen minutes staring into it. You won’t feel the warmth of the sun or breathe deep while gazing toward a horizon miles and miles away. The sight of those plaques won’t lift the corner of your mouth or encourage you in your faith.
So too, nature declaring God’s glory isn’t as wonderful as experiencing Him for ourselves.
He saves. He sustains and redeems. He’s speaking. He’s looking for us to be still, to experience Him personally instead of taking the sky’s word for it.
All of the landscapes and animals, from the amazing purple and orange of sunset to the deep blue sky to the gliding wings of an owl to the mountains, all of it points to something greater.
The true beauty of nature is that it’s only a shadow of the greatness of our Lord. Whatever beauty we see in nature or in any other blessing, God is infinitely more beautiful.
This is why we can stand in awe of Him not only for seventeen minutes, not only for our lifetimes, but for our eternities.
Let’s be more dedicated to admiring His beauty and knowing His unwavering love than we are interested in catching a glimpse of sunset or adventuring in the mountains or watching birds.
More than we’re enthusiastic nature lovers, let’s be God lovers.
Let us worship Him as God and draw close through the blood of Jesus. Then we’ll find our lives complete, our every longing satisfied in Him—because our every longing will line up with His will for us.
And someday, He’ll collect us, His followers, to Heaven, where we’ll get to experience the surpassing glory of His presence in ways that far exceed anything we experience on earth.
Praise be to the Creator! His name will be glorified forever, long after this world has passed away.
Emily is offering a free short story to email subscribers! See A Thing of Beauty below.
Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence her debut novel is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.
Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God’s love and in each other?
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/justice-emily-conrad/1127841580
A Thing of Beauty: From a childhood spent in the shadow of her beautiful sister, artist Naomi knows true beauty is deeper than outward appearances. But when Naomi’s relationship with her boyfriend, Emmerich, is challenged in unexpected ways, coping means moving beyond a definition of beauty and discovering its ultimate source.