Recently, I read an article that talked about the dark and thin spaces. The dark spaces are places where spiritual warfare is evident, and it is very spiritually dark. Thin places are where the space between Heaven and Earth feels thin—like the lines between God and us is a little bit blurred, and he just might be here.
In the past month, I've had quite a few moments of thin places. But none quite so evident as sunset at Yellowstone. The whole day had been gorgeous and full of beautiful creation. Yet, as we embarked to leave the park, the sun began to set. And as we turned down the mountain roads and looked out at the water, you had to pause and think about who created all of it. It was a moment where I knew God was looking at that sunset and, on this place, and could easily imagine him saying "and it is good."
The whole day I was in awe of creation. Of the radical geo-thermal hot springs and fumerals, at the massive buffalo and huge elk that walk around the plains, and the beauty of snow-covered hills and clear blue lakes. There is something about being out in creation that makes you feel at peace, and closer to God. However, then it hit me.
The reverence and awe that we give places like Yellowstone, or places of beautiful creation is the way that God looks at us. I believe that God loves Yellowstone, and he knows each tree and its curves, and he watches over every single buffalo and chipmunk. And I believe he cares deeply for his creation. WE are his creation. The same God who created the mountains to stretch for miles also breathed life into your lungs and crafted your smile and knows you intricately. He loves us.
I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like if we lived as if the people around us were creation? At Yellowstone, people are careful where they step and know not to hurt anything around them. What if we were careful with every person? We made sure to watch our words, and made sure to respect and treat every person well? There is also a unity at Yellowstone. Everyone is with their dysfunctional families, and people have come from all over the world and speak different languages, but together we enjoy creation. Together we stop and admire the wildlife, together we watch Old Faithful shoot hot water in the air, and together we realize we are part of something bigger. We are part of history, and part of a place that has been fought to be preserved. What if we were all to live in unity? We all look different, we speak different, and I'm sure we live differently. But we are all creation. We are all loved. We are all breathtakingly beautiful.
I am not perfect. In fact, in all honesty recently I've been grappling with my self-doubt and insecurities. I don't always feel beautiful, and I don't always treat the people around me well. However, I was stunned to think that my God finds delight in me, and that to him I am the same as any gorgeous land feature. Except for one thing—the trees, the animals, and the mountains do not have a personal relationship with God (as far as I know).
God made humans in his image, he sent his son down to look like us and die for us, we are his prized creations. We are his loves. We are his sons and daughters. To God, we are not only creation—we are family. He loves us more than anything and wants us to know his heart. He finds joy and delight in us, even when we do the stupidest things. He did not create us to sit still and watch us, he created us to care for others, to enjoy his other creation, and to find him. He created us because he loves us and wants to be in relationship with us.
Somedays, it is hard to look in the mirror and believe that I am a beautiful creation, and some days I forget that the people around me are just as loved as I am and are beautiful too. I am far from perfect. But Yellowstone constantly changes. Fires burn down the trees, and new ecosystems come and go, and nature balances itself out as it changes over time. We are creatures capable of change, capable of learning, and capable of taking in the thin moments.
I am a masterpiece. You are breathtaking. Together we are beautiful creation with a Creator who loves us. Let's start to live like it.