I just recently got to drive to the coast of California for a couple days. My wife and I have always loved the Monterey area, and the excuse to go and see some beautiful country was enough to get us in the car for the five-hour trip. In the morning I went upstairs to the restaurant to grab breakfast and watch the sun burn the fog back and reveal the bay in all its splendor. Nothing like a good cup of coffee and some wave watching to make you grateful to be alive.
The next day we drove back to Carson Valley. The beauty of the San Francisco Bay gives way to the fertile farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley. Row after row of grape vines, orchards, and family farms lined the highway as we pulled out of Stockton and headed up the mountains. All green and lush, the west side of the Sierra began to rise higher and higher until you near the top. Ice and snow that's not yet done melting caps majestic peaks like a crown of white. Then the descent into Nevada, past lakes and forests, down to the valley floor, always under the shadow of the breathtaking mountains that make this valley one of the most amazing places to live in the West.
All those hours in the car, all those views reminded me of just how incredibly beautiful the corner of the world where we live is. Within driving distance are some of the most breathtaking spots in North America, but even outside our doors there is beauty that is unsurpassed in the world. When I get the chance to see the beauty of nature, I'm reminded how easily we can become jaded rather than inspired by beauty. Seeing gorgeous vistas over and over can leave us a little flat, forgetting how magnificent what we're seeing really is. Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt.
But Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky once famously wrote: "Beauty will save the world." To ignore beauty is to ignore a powerful force for good. Beauty inspires. Beauty uplifts. Beauty proves the existence of God. Only God could both produce powerful beauty and give humans the capacity to experience it. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:20: "For 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. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." God sent us a message in the beauty of the creation all around us, and that message is clear: I'm here. I'm powerful and creative, and I care about details, colors and beauty. I gave you senses to experience all of this because I love you. Don't let a beautiful spring day go by without thanking God for His presence as it's made known in the beauty of the creation all around us.
Pastor Bill McCready of LifePoint Church is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.