Sunday, May 1, 2011

{ Rejoice }

After work on Friday I stopped by Sherwin-Williams to pick up some paint chips. Flipping through a sample brochure, I noticed this quote printed beneath a photo:

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice. - John Calvin (theologian, born 1509)

John Calvin--quoted in a paint store idea booklet. God's exquisite artistry, His brilliant design in creation given a sideways nod via Sherwin-Williams promotional materials. I picked up the booklet along with my paint chips and hurried on my way.

It startled me, though. Bothered me as I ran errands, sorted laundry, ate dinner. I thought of the beauty I saw last weekend when we visited the tulip fields with my family. Beauty in so many shapes, textures, sizes; colors vibrant, unapologetic, theatrical.







Hesitantly, I admit: I am baffled by the Maker's apparent concern with beauty. Does He really care this much? Flowers don't have to be beautiful in order to pollinate and reproduce. This resplendent display of beauty and creativity and utter decadence for the senses is certainly not needed. And yet....He chose to make them so. Does Jesus really value beauty this highly? Does the delight of the senses really matter this much?

I am confused. 

I am all function, efficiency, results-driven. Whatever is the shortest, most efficient route between Point A and Point B, I'm there. There is not time nor room nor energy in my decision-making paradigm for non-essentials like beauty, enjoyment, or pleasure. The road doesn't have to be pretty, as long as it gets me to my destination. In fact, pretty would probably only distract me and make the journey take longer. I'd probably have to sacrifice more time and energy to seek out or cultivate that beauty, anyway, which is a waste of my limited resources. I'm not sure I'll make it to my destination as it is!

This lifestyle {for this statement is the foundation of all my choices; it permeates every fiber, every moment, every breath of my day} slams against the words in the Sherwin-Williams booklet. I flip it open when I walk by the dining table.

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.

Really. Really? I don't believe it. I blatantly call that a lie every. single. day.

It's time to hit the gym {I may blatantly disregard the value of beauty around me, but with Hawaii around the corner, trying to get this body in better shape for a bathing suit is high on my priority list}. I grab my water bottle and this book,

a birthday gift I've been feebly attempting to read. I feel like I need a clean slate. I decide to start over. I balance on the elliptical machine, running, till my hands are too sweaty to hold the book. I set it down and my head wrestles with the dichotomy between mind and heart and what does beauty matter? and I sweat and I have no answers.

...all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin....the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am always failing. Always, the failing.

My eyes smart. How does she know? Someone else feels this, too?

I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?....I really want to really live. Is that the message of nightmares and dreams? To live either fully alive...or in empty nothingness?
It's the in between that drives us mad.
It's the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost all capacity to fully feel--this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead. - One Thousand Gifts, p. 27

Did He really do that? God? Did He really create this world to make us rejoice? Are flowers beautiful because our souls respond to beauty and glory and Him and when we accept this beauty, seek it and delight in it and enjoy it, we are closer to Him? Is being intentional about beauty, creating it, and rejoicing in its presence wherever we find it, part of God's purpose for me? Part of His plan, rather than an optional, superfluous, not-really-worthwhile distraction? 

Long finished with my workout, I'm still wrestling with this, mind vs. heart, not understanding at all with my head, yet wanting to be convinced. I want to see. Help my unbelief.


  1. I read this earlier this morning and prayed for you while I was at church for these questions you are asking... I just wanted to come back and tell you that. : )

    I admire your honesty and for the record I think YOU are beautiful and that kind of answers your question, right? : )

  2. The answer is YES! Creation shouts YES! Enjoy me, be taken back in awe and wonder at my beauty and fall to your knees before The One who created it, whose brush strokes lovingly colored each and every living thing.
    "But for this very purpose have I let you live, that I might show you My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth." Exodus 9:16
    "O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions." Psalm 104:24

    REJOICE! In the beautifully created image in the mirror, in the view outside your window, in the mountains, in the ant hill in the crack of the sidewalk.....REJOICE! :)Hugs to you and your oh-so deep thinking today. ~T

  3. Excellent post. Excellent book. I am almost done with my second time through.

  4. Nikki - I've continued to think about your questions here and came across this quote that made me think about what you wrote:

    “Contempt for pleasure, so far from arguing superior spirituality, is actually…the sin of pride. Pleasure is divinely designed to raise our sense of God’s goodness, deepen our gratitude to him, and strengthen our hope of richer pleasures to come in the next world.” ~ Dr. J.I. Packer

    I love what he said about why pleasures were designed by God! I thought you may like it, too. : )

  5. PS I am about to read Gary Thomas' book called Pure Pleasure. We should both read it - it addresses your questions! : ) I'd love to know what you think of it, too.