As I committed to reading through Calvin’s Institutes with a friend, in honour of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year, I thought it would be worth jotting down some bits that I found particularly interesting. Here’s the quote for today:
For with regard to the most beautiful structure and order of the universe, how many of us are there who, when we lift up our eyes to heaven or cast them about through the various regions of earth, recall our minds to a remembrance of the Creator, and do not rather, disregarding their Author, sit idly in contemplation of his works?
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, 5.11
There are so many times when I fail to recognise the beauty around me. A beautiful sunset that I ignore because I’m “busy” watching some stupid video on Facebook. A cloud so fluffy it puts pillows and marshmallows to shame. The smell of coffee or tea in the morning, or the intricacies of the inner workings of a child.
But Calvin here is not talking about the times that we forget to notice God’s creation. He’s saying how we sit there in awe of a sunset, or clouds, breathe in that life-giving smell of coffee in the morning, or when you’re marvelling at your baby’s tiny fingers; yet it doesn’t lead us back to God. As in, how can you enjoy and marvel at the most amazing and incomprehensible aspects of this wonderful life and not give glory to God!
Every time we sit and wonder at the marvel of creation, our thoughts should fall back to the God behind it all. It’s designed to make us consider the wondrous God who made us! Calvin goes on to say, however, that as humans we tend to ignore the amazing wonders that follow us in all our life, and tend to think of how things are “whirled and twisted about by blind and indiscriminate fortune” rather than by God.
So perhaps the next time you sit back and take in creation, deliberately move your mind to God and spend a few moments thanking him for this world (and the thing you’re enjoying). God has made this incredible universe for us, his children. We all appreciate grateful children, and what better way to show our love for our heavenly Father when enjoying his good gifts!