“Isn’t it egotistical for God to insist on people praising him? Is he so insecure that he has to hear compliments all the time?”
Atheists and faith-hostile television personalities have asked these and similar questions in recent years. Answering the question by saying, “God created us for His glory” only begs the question. I’ve wondered, myself, about lines of scripture that command us to:
“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD!”
Watching the snow silently cover my world in the past week, coating every branch and bough and softening the stark winter landscape into a puffy white fairyland, I had a moment. One of those chest-swelling sensations that fills you with wonder and marvel and inexplicable joy. I’ve experienced such moments many times before. The extravagant brush-strokes of neon splendour in a lush and wild prairie sunrise. The softer-than-warm-air skin of a newborn, that when you kiss his cheek, makes you wonder if your lips have made contact. Hoar frost twinkling and dazzling in the pink light of a winter’s dusk. All these make my heart-strings begin to play the Hallelujah Chorus.
I’m not alone in that response.
Magnificent photos of the Pillars of Creation, “three giant columns of cold gas bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young, massive stars in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, or M16” elicit the same reaction. Every single viewer’s comment in the long list of replies was one of awe, marvel, wonder. It’s the most natural and fitting response. Most left a simple, “Beautiful!” But one comment resonated with me.
“Sometimes I encounter such beautiful images that it’s so overwhelming and makes me want to cry at the beauty and awe of such a sight. This is one of them.”
Pioneer photographer, Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley who created the first photograph of a snow crystal on January 15, 1885 experienced such a moment too. It took years of practice combining the new technology of photography with microscopy, learning to handle the snow crystal quickly and efficiently before it could melt away, getting enough light on the subject and adjusting the camera’s aperture for a sharp image.
“The day that I developed the first negative made by this method and found it good, I felt almost like falling on my knees beside that apparatus and worshipping it. It was the greatest moment of my life,” Bentley said.
Symmetry, intricacy, beauty, grandeur — these evidences of a creative power so far beyond ourselves call for songs of loudest praise. That’s why it’s not unseemly for the Creator of it all to urge us to engage in worship (“worth ship”). He is entirely worthy of our honour and praise.
To think that “The LORD [who] is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens… humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth” (Psalm 113) by entering His own creation produces another of those moments of heart-stopping, trembling awe.
“Glory to God in the highest!”