The contrast of the landscape against the woman, the details of the transparent veil on her head, the soft contouring of her face as seen in the smooth transition from one color to another—all these and more have made art analysts from then and now marvel at Leonardo da Vinci’s genius, to the immortalization of the “Mona Lisa.”
But if we want to look at great masterpieces, we need not go to the Louvre Museum. We can just look up at the evening sky and see the shining stars, feel the invisible but palpable breeze tousling our hair, or stare at the mirror and into that complex confluence of bones and muscles and organs. Because all of nature, the whole universe, even our very beings, are canvasses. Intricate works of art.
Works of art that point to the glorious splendor of the One who created them all—everything—out of nothing, at just the command of His lips. The Great Designer, our Mighty God, who is:
Terrifyingly magnificent. The mountains quake before Him, the wild winds are hushed at the sound of His voice, the planets rotate and revolve at His bidding. So when Moses saw Him as a burning bush, he was warned not to come any closer; when Isaiah caught a vision of Him, he cried, ‘Woe to me! I am ruined!’; and when Paul encountered Him on the road to Damascus, his eyes were blinded. Powerful, holy, terrifying—this is our God.
But He is also beautiful, splendid, magnificent. Yes, Moses, Isaiah, and Paul were terrified in seeing a glimpse of Him, but they were also awestruck, mesmerized. The towering mountains and the orange sunset suddenly lost their charm. After seeing the real thing, the one Source of nature’s beauty, Moses, Isaiah, and Paul chased after nothing and no one else, like a groom who found his bride.
Mysteriously familiar. For thousands of years, the world’s greatest minds have yet to understand the whole of the universe. So much unexplored space and unreached galaxies—even with the aid of scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. Now, if the universe is this vast, how much more God for whom the earth is but a footstool? Mighty, awesome, powerful, splendid, holy, righteous, majestic—He is all of these and so much more! Even Moses, Isaiah, or Paul could not paint for us the whole picture of God, for He is incomprehensible, far too lofty for our little brains.
But we can know Him. Not all of Him, yes, but we can know Him: when we are afraid, we know Him as our Fortress; when the economy is failing, we know Him as our Provider; when our health is falling, we know Him as our Healer; when people are against us, we know Him as our Defender. Whatever the season of life, we know Him as OUR God.
Transcendentally near. Throughout history, no one has ever come close to our God. Think of Alexander the Great, who, in his fifteen years of conquest, dominated most of the known world in his day, without ever losing a single battle. Then, at the age of 32, Alexander was defeated… by a disease. But our God, supreme in every way, will never be defeated by anything—even death. He proved that when He came back from the grave three days after dying on the Cross.
The Cross? Dying on the Cross? Why? Because transcendent as He may be, He is also a God who is willing to lay down His life just to save us puny people from the cruel hands of death. Not a far-away god who could not be moved from his high pedestal, but a God who comes down… who walks among the poor and touches the leper… who is personal, near.
So, the next time you look up at the evening sky and the shining stars, the next time you feel the breeze against your hair, the next time you see your reflection at the mirror, remember the One who created it all—terrifyingly magnificent, mysteriously familiar, and transcendentally near—and fall down before Him in worship.
“Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:9)