I wrote this as a follow-up to an article about getting to know God.
I used to spend a lot of time hiking up quiet mountain trails to enjoy the views, or sipping coffee on benches next to the Puget Sound, where I’d glance up occasionally from a thought-provoking book to soak in a spectacular sunset glinting off the waves.
It felt so easy to “behold God” in those places. Sometimes I would madly scribble verses in my journal: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork!” (Psalm 19:1) And when the chill of evening began to set in, I’d gather up my books and my last few drops of vanilla latte and meander to my car, still feeling the warm glow of time spent in contemplation of God’s greatness.
It was like living in my own little Christian Folgers commercial.
Then came love, then came marriage, then came four babies hanging off the double jogging stroller.
These days, about all that remains of that picture above is the coffee. Desperately gulped, not delicately sipped.
And God of course.
I’m learning to contemplate God’s greatness in less spectacular regions. Like the bathroom.
We have hideous white and green tile in our bathroom. But I can’t help noticing how well the pieces fit together – edge to edge, corner to corner. God created a world full of symmetry. He likes order, harmony, proportion, balance.
And those annoying places where the tiles don’t quite match up? Proof that God did not tile my bathroom. But proof also of his mind-blowing creative genius, because he gifted people with the ability to pull clay and sand and quartz from the ground, build a hydraulic machine that can apply up to 100,000 pounds of pressure per square inch to pulverize and press these ingredients into a chosen shape, frost this earthen cookie with melted glass, and then bake it at 2,500 degrees and call it “tile.”
And why would people go to this trouble? Mostly because it looks pretty when it’s glued in colorful patterns to walls and floors. God likes pretty things. And he also likes variety, because while someone else thought the green and white tile in my bathroom was pretty, I would like it to be a very different kind of pretty.
There are lots of shiny things in my bathroom: faucets, knobs, window panes, mirrors … even the finish on the cabinets. So think for a minute about “shiny.” Webster defines it as “filled with the rays of the sun” and “full of light.” There’s nothing really functional about it, but it fills the world (and bathrooms!) with light and beauty. God is extravagant.
There’s more! My shampoo bottle is very appealing to look at because it’s elegantly shaped and vibrantly colored. God thought up color. And not just a few colors, an infinite variety of hues, shades, tones, intensities and tints.
And then he gave us eyes, through which color passes from outside of us into some deep place in our soul, where it stirs up happiness and appreciation.
Inside my shampoo bottle is this fragrant substance called soap. The God who filled the world with color also filled it with aroma. (Seriously, who thinks of this stuff??) And good soap does more than smell good, it cleanses. It turns dirty into clean.
But there’s something even more profound about a shampoo bottle: words. We all know to “lather, rinse and repeat” because God gave us the priceless gift of words. He spoke us into existence and he upholds us by the word of his power.
He loves to communicate. Oh, but “communicate” sounds so technical! Webster says it another way: to open into each other. God opens into us. He pours in truth, understanding, wisdom, love. He pours in himself.
And he gave us the Word: Jesus, his son.
Are you feeling the warm glow here??
Even the stubborn mildew stains in my shower sing the praises of a God who will one day put an end to all corruption and decay – who even now prepares a home for his saints in his glorious and perfect kingdom.
Yes, these are the testimonies of tiles and shampoo bottles and mildew stains.
In these wonderful, loud years of young parenthood, I do sometimes miss the refreshing quiet of a good hike or waterfront sunset. But I don’t miss beholding God. Because his glory is, literally, everywhere.