What a lovely thing a rose is! …Our highest assurance of the goodness of God seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so again I say we have much to hope from the flowers. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as Sherlock Holmes
The infamous Sherlock Holmes, a detective renowned for astute observation and logic, muses about why flowers are so lovely and fragrant. While we know that flowers are not “the highest assurance of the goodness of God”- Jesus is!- Holmes is correct about one thing: flowers are powerful clues about the God we long to know and worship. “Ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature.” (Romans 1:20 NLT)
So if we can see His invisible qualities in nature, what can we know about God based on the flowers? He is both an Artist and an Engineer. He loves form as much as function, prizes craftsmanship and attention to detail, and apparently never tires of variety. He gave us five senses and then set out to appeal to all five. As Holmes says, God didn’t have to make flowers so lovely, but He did because He is good. Like any Father, He loves to delight His children.
While I seek to understand the Father through the natural world, I also realize how mysterious He really is. Today I listened to a radio piece about whales singing, and wondered why in the world whales sing in the first place. I have always been curious about all that beauty in the depths of the ocean. Why are those creatures so odd and gorgeous? Speaking of odd, I get why He made the peacock, but do you ever wonder what’s up with the possum? (Not to mention rattlesnakes, roaches and gators.) Clearly creation is God’s canvas, His symphony and His kitchen, meant for more than human use and enjoyment. Maybe God’s idea of beauty is different from mine.
Jesus teaches us to think this way. For example, when confronting His disciples about their tendency to worry, He suggests that they “consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30) These natural metaphors instruct us. He compares His Word to rain and snow (Isaiah 55:8-13), His Son to a lion (Revelation 5:5), His children to sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17), and His forgiveness to the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19). God reveals Himself to us first in His Word and then through creation, frequently comparing aspects of His character to the natural world so that we might grasp some idea of Who He is.
Not only does nature teach, it also worships: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4) God inspires ecstatic praise from creation itself, and creation continues to proclaim Him whether we do or not. On that first Palm Sunday, as Jesus came into Jerusalem amid the joyful shouts of the people, the Pharisees tell Jesus to quiet the crowds. “I tell you,” He replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) Nature cannot help but rejoice! (Come to think of it, I know what those whales are singing about…) Blooming itself is an act of worship: “The wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:1) You and I also “blossom” when we worship, thriving when we do what we were created to do.
What aspects of creation really bring you joy? Everyone enjoys a spectacular sunset, but we all have our particular favorites. I love flowers (obviously) but I’m also thrilled by raspberries (I'll bet heaven tastes like raspberries), lightning (flashes of art, powerful and dangerous), giraffes (God laughs!), and old, old trees (all that majesty from a tiny seed). You may sense God’s vast strength and power most standing on the shores of the ocean, but I find Him most easily in the mountains. How does He reveal Himself to you through the natural things you love?
Consider the possibility that He made that tart apple just for you, because He knows you love them. Maybe He planted those pines so you could hear the whisper of the wind rushing through them. Perhaps the wet-nosed affection of the family dog is a gift from Your Father after a stressful day. Seek Him in His creation: He wants to make Himself known to us. When we see Him as He is, all that’s left to do is worship.
Some verses for worship:
All things were made though Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:3
But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you:/ And the birds of the air, and they will tell you: Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;/ And the fish of the sea will explain to you./ Who among all these does not know/ That the hand of the Lord has done this/ In Whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? Job 12:7-10
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;/ Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;/ Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it./ Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord/ For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth./ He shall judge the world with righteousness,/ And the peoples with His truth. Psalm 96:11-13
For a beautiful Psalm celebrating God’s provision for His creation, read all of Psalm 104, which concludes of course with praise: May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May the Lord rejoice in His works./ He looks on the earth, and it trembles;/ He touches the hills, and they smoke./ I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;/ I will sing praise to my God while I have my being./ May my meditation be sweet to Him;/ I will be glad in the Lord. (v. 31-34)
For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17 NIV
Taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1: 1, 31
Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,/ God of glory, Lord of love;/ hearts unfold like flowers before thee,/ opening to the sun above./ Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;/ drive the dark of doubt away./ Giver of immortal gladness,/ fill us with the light of day!
All thy works with joy surround thee,/ earth and heaven reflect thy rays/ stars and angels sing around thee,/ center of unbroken praise./ Field and forest, vale and mountain,/ flowery meadow, flashing sea,/ chanting bird and flowing fountain,/ call us to rejoice in thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,/ ever blessing, ever blest,/ well-spring of the joy of living,/ ocean depth of happy rest!/ Thou our Father, Christ our brother,/ all who live in love are thine;/ teach us how to love each other,/ lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the mighty chorus/ which the morning stars began;/ love divine is reigning o'er us,/ binding all within its span./ Ever singing, march we onward,/ victors in the midst of strife;/ joyful music leads us sunward,/ in the triumph song of life.