Having just moved from the great Northwest, I have been asked to write for you an article on the beauty of creation.
It is certainly true that the northwest comer of our country, and particularly the northwest comer of the state of Washington, in which Lynden is located and where we were privileged to live for many years, constitutes one of the most beautiful portions of our great land. Many a time have I ridden around through Whatcom County marveling at the magnificent beauty of the white mountain peaks on every side standing out in sharp contrast to the blue sky above and the dark green of the fir trees and fields below. Many a time have my family and I gone down to the bay to watch the glory of the setting sun across the deep blue waters of the Puget Sound dotted as it is by the many small islands which are uniquely its own. Many a pleasant hour have Phil and I spent hiking along mountain trails up through forests of towering cedar and fir to the meadows above, covered with mountain flowers and looking out at the jagged peaks of black and white which make up the Cascade Range. Is there an experience of beauty anywhere that can compare to standing on the high white glacier fields of Mt. Baker when the breaking dawn fills the sky on every side? One does not look out at it, he is in the very sunrise with its glory that fills the sky. The heavens do declare the glory of God, and creation shows His handiwork. We have seen it and will never forget it.
And yet, through it all, there was one great frustration which I could never quite meet.
From the time I was a student, my hobby was taking photographs; and scenic photography I preferred above all. It has always seemed to me to be a hobby which teaches one to see and note little beauties in creation that otherwise are apt to be ignored.
I did what I could of this while still in school; but it was not until we were settled in Edgerton that I was able to apply myself to it with any regularity at all. There in the area around Edgerton, as well as in South Dakota and Colorado where we often went on classical appointments, I was able to spend many a pleasant hour searching for those small, unrecognized points of beauty which could be caught by the camera and so remembered for myself and for others. It was a satisfying pastime, searching the creation that way for those marks of beauty which otherwise one never thought to note. To this day, I have many cherished photographs which serve to restore to my memory thrills of joy which I once had at some point of creation’s glory, and without which they would be forgotten forever.
When, therefore, we were called to live and work in the middle of the spectacular beauty which is so much a part of the great Northwest, it seemed to me that one of the great bonuses for me would be the photographic opportunity which it afforded. And for a time I went at it with enthusiastic joy; but it wasn’t long before I found myself deeply disconcerted. The great and spectacular beauty of mountains such as Baker and Shuksan and Ranier was so evident that no one could pass it by; and when photographed the results were seldom any different than what one could find already printed on calendars and postcards everywhere. And, even more, with everything dominated by such great and self-evident beauty, it was hard, and sometimes it seemed impossible, to look once again for those small beauties which would provide a fresh and new viewpoint to be recorded. The great, spectacular beauty of that country made it harder, not easier, to take the kind of photograph I liked.
And I think there is a parallel to this in all of life, particularly for a Christian.
There are things in life whose greatness and importance seem evident to all; they are like great mountain peaks that dominate the horizons of time. These are the things to which the important people of this world direct their attention, governmental heads, the wealthy, and the learned. And we, standing by in our smallness, are apt to think that if only we could be involved with things like that then certainly we could serve our God best.
What we so readily forget is that the greatness and beauty of God is everywhere, in the small things as well as the great.
It may be quite true that the majesty of God’s greatness is to be seen in the great spectacular peaks of high mountains; but don’t forget that it is also there in the rolling prairies, in fields of grain and lakes and streams, and even along city streets. And maybe sometimes we can see it best when the great and spectacular is not there to detract.
For your life and mine the same obtains. It may seem to us in moments of dream that we could do God great service if our lives could be involved in some of the world’s great things. But God is in the small as well as the great; and our service of God is equally well given in the small things of ordinary living. It might seem to us that we could give better service if we could work with things that are great; but the likelihood is that they would only detract. To learn to see God in the small things of life and to praise Him there is where your service and mine is given best.