Once I took my daughter and her friend shopping at a local outdoor mall. I dropped them off and then went to the coffee shop in one of those big chain bookstores. I read a little bit from a book, and I confess I looked at my phone a little bit, but when I looked up, I felt self-conscious because everyone else was looking at their phones. I decided to just sit there and think. I did some people-watching. I drank my coffee. But I kept my head up and my mind active. I did that for about an hour.
When my daughter and her friend finally found me, my daughter walked up and said, “You look weird.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you’re just sitting there.”
Apparently, “just sitting there” looks weird. It was a strange sight to her to see someone sitting out in public who wasn’t looking at a screen. Or looking at anything in particular. She thought, in fact, it seemed a little creepy that I was just sitting there. That’s how upside down we are.
But until we learn to simply sit there, to be still, to be settled, to look at the great big world around us, to consider with wonder all these incredible humans made in God’s image, to look at his endlessly fascinating creation in long, steady concentration, we will continue in spiritual myopia and spiritual boredom. When our vision is constantly occupied by small things, we are tempted to yawn at the glory of God.
I know what Jared means when he says, “when our vision is constantly occupied by small things, we are tempted to yawn at the glory of God.” Do you know what he means?
We built a deck in our backyard this past winter. When I say “we,” I mean the guy we hired to build it. I said for seven years I’d do it, then realized I never would. So, we hired someone. He did a great job, and the deck is exactly what we wanted. We bought some furniture to go out there—the kind with nice cushions so you’d want to sit in it. And spring came early this year, so we have been able to enjoy it a lot.
I also happen to wake up early: like 4:00 AM early. I do this because I work a day job at a big company but I also have this love of reading and writing and serve as part-time preacher and teacher at my church. So, I have to squeeze every ounce of every productive hour out of my little body. (Pro tip: writing at night takes at least seven times longer than writing at 4:30 AM. Trust me.)
So, since I now get up before the sun rises, and since we built that deck in the backyard, sometimes I take a lamp out, get the cushions out of the deck box, and sit facing East. I read and I write and I study and I think about God and how to put the amazing truths of Romans 8, for example, into a 3,000-word paper that will help others see just a little of the glory. If you’re a writer, you’ll know that a lot of writing is sitting in one spot and staring into space for a considerable amount of time. It’s how we think. But have you ever done that as the sun rises early in the morning? Have you ever done that outside? Staring into space, I mean. Here’s what I learned.
Did you know there are different colors of morning? I had no idea. God doesn’t take the world from black night to day blue. He takes it through a progression of blues and reds and yellows and oranges. The first blue of dawn is not the final blue of day. It took me thirty-three years to discover that. What have I been doing all my life that made me miss something that happens every single day?
Every morning I wake up and begin my day. I do this largely ignorant of the amazing things God is doing just outside my window. He’s waking the world with a variety of colors and movements. It is as if the Earth is performing her great symphony and I have gone into the sound-proof room to escape the noise. I look outside and I see the morning but I don’t behold it.
And I ask myself now: if I have missed thousands of mornings of beauty and grace, how much more have I missed? If I fail to behold the glory of the dawn, how much more have do I fail to behold the glory of the Son? How is it that with all the grace squeezed into each day—from the Bible morning reading to the taste of the coffee to the blessing of a job to the joy of my family—do I yawn at the glory of God? I'm occupied with small things, not knowing that even those are windows through which to behold the glory of God.