By Dan Nelson
It was cold and rainy. I was cold and the clothes I had to put on were wet. I was not looking forward to starting the day. Nevertheless, I unzipped the fly of the tent and began getting ready for the day’s hike. Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail can be an exhilarating experience. It can also be miserable. Meandering along with your pack in tow, there are a variety of scenes laid out before you. Many are dense with trees all around. You find yourself climbing and descending and climbing and descending. But without fail, every single day, you find yourself saying, “wow, that’s beautiful!” And you pause and take it in as much as you can. You feel something inside; a connection. Often the experience is had when reaching a lofty spot and taking in a vast scene. But other times it is when you come upon a bubbling stream or a landscape that looks like it’s been taken out of a forest painting or when it’s taking that much needed drink from your water bottle. All of it is beautiful and all of it is good.
Talking to a child, I might say that beauty is something that strikes you as “good.” When you look at something or listen to something or feel something or smell something and you stop and think, “wow, that’s good!” I think that’s beauty. I know there are more descriptive thoughts that could be had on it, but if we keep it in this simple context we can very easily apply it to God.
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endureth forever.” (Psalm 136:1) “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
With just those two verses alone, we can make a connection with “goodness” and God. Goodness is very much sourced in God and in who He is. That being the case, I would offer then that beauty is an expression of that goodness; beauty is an expression of God. Every time we sense it, every time we are caught by it, we are caught by God. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? It’s a wonderful thought because we begin to sense that God is all around us; and He is! He’s in the things we hear and the things we see and all the things our five senses give us access to.
Lord, thank you for the moments my senses are caught by beauty. Help me to praise you in those moments because you’ve captured my attention. – Amen
Captain Dan Nelson is a graduate of Western Illinois University, where he majored in Communications. He is currently completing a Masters Degree in Biblical studies at Trevecca Nazarene University. Passionate about discipling, Dan also enjoys running,creating spreadsheets, brainstorming on marker-boards, and anything with an Apple logo on it. Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Dan moved south to marry Sarah Nelson. Together they have been serving Territorial Candidates Secretary for the USA Southern Territory of The Salvation Army since 2012. Previously, they were corps officers. They continue to enjoy participating in their corps as soldiers and members of the band, choir and teen ministry leadership team. The couple have two beautiful children, Hannah, 17, and Nolan, 8.