Lasting Beauty

Julie Andrews famously sang about “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” Her favorite things included “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.”

The lyrics work because we never tire of beauty. C.S. Lewis wrote, “We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to become part of it” (“The Weight of Glory”). God has created us with a yearning for more of the beauty we see, but that desire will not be satisfied this side of eternal glory.

About glory the Bible says, “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the (temporal) things which are seen, but the (eternal) things which are not seen” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Whatever weighty glory awaits, it is beyond our earthly experience, we won’t know it until we see it, and it is beautiful beyond imagination. Is that not the beauty we truly desire?

In a fable, Lewis describes a woman thrown into a dungeon where she bears and raises a son. A grating above is the only glimpse of the outside world. With pad and pencil, she sketches fields, rivers, and mountains to explain that the world is far more glorious than their dungeon. One day, she realizes that he doesn’t get it. “You didn’t think that the real world was full of lines drawn in lead pencil?” “What?” says the boy. “No pencil marks there?” He could not imagine the color, contours, and movement of nature that would make the black, static lines disappear. Likewise, we cannot imagine the “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard…that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

You are hard-wired with an appreciation for beauty. Not only is that evidence for the existence of God (for what evolutionary purpose are you enraptured by brilliant sunset hues of orange and pink?) but also it hints at what is to come. When you experience beauty, remember the promise of an eternal weight of glory.

The Sound of Music is not about escaping dog bites and bee stings, but the Nazi occupation of Austria and the accompanying evils of the world. Earthly beauty is only a momentary escape from those evils, but it is a major hint at the eternal beauty that awaits God-lovers. Let beauty give you hope and keep you from losing heart, as you await the things not seen. May the hills be alive with that sound of music!