My class on the theology of Jonathan Edwards last week was rigorous, and today I begin a new class on church leadership. So, when Saturday (2 days ago) arrived, I was ready to give my brain and body a break from study and do something refreshing.
Some of you know about my love for residential architecture. And it just so happens that two hours west of Charlotte (where I'm in school) is America's largest and, some would say, most beautiful home: Biltmore, the residential masterpiece built by George Vanderbuilt in the 1890's. What better way to spend a day off than touring this most remarkable of homes? So I did.
The drive from Biltmore's front gate to the house took me on a road which wound three miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains. As mountain mist hung in the air around towering spruce and cedar trees, I felt like I'd entered a fairy land and found myself spontaneously exclaiming, "Praise You, Creator God!"
After arriving at the house, I purchased a day pass which allowed me to tour the rooms which are open to the public. I was awestruck by the grand dining hall, with a table seating 44 and a 70 foot vaulted ceiling. I was dumbfounded by the richness of the breakfast room with its hand-worked, leather wall coverings and red, Italian marble trim. Most of all I was continually struck by the ingenious design of the house which actually makes much of this 255 room mansion feel like a warm and cozy cottage.
After my tour as I beheld the house one last time from the beautiful garden I thought, with amazement, of the genius of Fredrick Law Olmsted (the landscape architect) and Richard Hunt (the house architect). But then the Spirit corrected me saying, "But who gave these men the ability to craft such a home? Who created the stone, brick, wood and slate necessary to build it? Who made the Blue Ridge Mountains whose beauty so well accentuates the glory of Biltmore?" "You, O God!" I exclaimed. "You have made this house. Praise You!"
God has graciously filled our world with beauty in a thousand forms which all point to Him and call forth our praise. Unbelievers enjoy earthly beauty and human wisdom and stop short in their praise, missing the Master Creator behind it all. Only we Christians can enjoy music and let it cause us to praise the God of music, we can taste delicious food and delight in its Maker, we can feel the refreshment of a cool pool on a hot day and trace its joy back to the Master Who said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place...." (Gen. 1:9)
We swim everyday in an ocean of worship opportunity. This summer may the God of beauty hear our praise.