We are fortunate to live here in the Northern Rockies. We cannot adequately describe the freshness and beauty of the country. It is easy to breathe in the morning air and gaze at the shimmering mountains, the rolling plains or the pine-dotted breaks and give thanks to God for creating all of it for us.
But are we displaying arrogance when we think he is honoring us by providing these gifts? The true gift that he gave us was the capacity to appreciate beauty, to recognize justice and to act with kindness. We worship God by being in awe at the beauty of his creation. He has gifted us the power of perception and the capacity to appreciate.
God could have created us in such a way that we perceived that the green of the forest clashed with the blue of the sky, but he did not. And he added an ability to wonder at the glow of the morning as it complements the patterns of the day and all beauty of form and color.
He could have created us in such a way that we perceived that the sound of the trill of the meadowlark and the tinkling of a trout stream were raucous, but he did not. And he added the gentleness of symphony and wail of fiddle to wile way the day with lyrics and melodies.
He could have created us in such a way that we perceived that the odor of new-mown hay and dew on the sage as nauseating, but he did not. And he added the aroma of fresh-baked bread and honest sweat and motherhood.
He could have stopped the creative process when man had the cognitive power to survive in a hostile environment, but he did not. He added qualities far beyond what is needed to maintain sovereignty over the beasts of the field and the vagaries of climate.
He added mathematics, poetry, artistry and symmetry of every ilk that were shaped by neither chance
nor environment. And he added imagination, sacrificial love and empathy; all things that do not fit in the Darwinian model of evolution.
He did these things so that we might be in awe of his creation and not because they are needed for survival or that we deserve reward. He gave us an ability to store fond memories and to project to a life beyond and to dream and appreciate.
We must feel profound sorrow for those who, because of genetics or by disease or accident, are deprived of the power of perception and consciousness. We must feel even more profound sorrow for those whose lives are gray, who live at a time and place where the smell of death predominates and the cries of hungry children din the ears. They have been barred from an opportunity to fully appreciate the glory of God’s gifts by evilness not of their own making.
We should pity those who have not been Spirit-blessed and those who by their own volition build barriers of drugs, alcohol or habit to hide their shame or flaunt their disobedience.
We truly worship God when we acknowledge his gifts and reflect back to him our appreciation of the qualities of which we have been endowed. Wherever you sit on the question of the seven days of creation or eons of evolution, you must agree that we are the product of God’s grace. Grace is the means by which we see and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and we must worship him in that humble and reflective way.
Bill Hagen, a native Montanan, lives in Columbus.
The Faith & Values column appears Saturdays in The Billings Gazette. Pastors, ethicists, educators or others who would like to write a column about faith, ethics or values for the section, should contact: Susan Olp; Billings Gazette; 401 N. Broadway; Billings, MT 59101. Or call her at 657-1281; fax to her attention at 657-1208; or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.