As I write this, I’ve just returned home from an evening walk with my family. Most nights we walk a loop that takes us up on the hillside and back to our lowland home. This time of year our evening walks point us toward the sunset for a good 20 minutes as we crest the hill and work our way gradually down.
Tonight’s sunset was entirely unique, as they all are. Bright orange on the horizon, innumerable shades of pink in the lower sky, purple mountains matched by purple clouds, silvery white higher up, and intense blue fading up and over our heads. Sights like this present us with beauty that sometimes makes our hearts ache.
We enjoyed this rich view as we walked imperceptibly closer to the horizon. I tried to drink it all in. My wife and I talked about the God who shines at us in such moments. I repeatedly pointed it out to my daughters riding in the double stroller. (“I know Daddy, I already saw how beautiful!”)
And then we reached the side street that curbs our route, walked parallel to the radiating colors for a short block, then turned our backs on the glory. I hated to do it. But after running my wife off the sidewalk with the stroller as I craned my neck for a few more glances, I gave it up. I guess that’s all the glory I get for one night.
How we long for those moments with God! Those rare moments where we feel him, where we almost see Him. I’ve experienced it in singing praise songs, in reading my Bible and other books, in short and long moments of prayer, in rich times of fellowship. Lately I’ve been experiencing God more and more in his stuff. The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day and night speak incessantly, their voices sounding in every corner of creation (Ps. 19:1–6). When I earnestly look, I see God’s active presence in fallen leaves, in half moons, in my daughters’ laughter, in a stranger’s smile. I’m no pantheist, but I do agree with the Psalmist—his name is echoing all around this place.
These moments of recognized glory are rare and precious; we hate to let them go. It felt such a shame to turn my back on God’s glory etched in the ever-changing sky. But when I turned my back on glory, I realized that I hadn’t. The street ahead of me was softly shaded in orange and pink. Every tree, car, and home was covered in a gentle light. The street we so often walk along was the same as ever, yet completely different. God’s glory shone from behind us and everything in our path passively reflected his light as it actively presented all of the attributes with which God crafted it. The trees, for example, revealed God’s handiwork in leaves and bark and limbs, and they glowed softly in reflection of his illuminated masterpiece.
As much as we want to cling to those experiences of God’s glory, we must eventually turn our backs. The routine calls us on. The God-granted mundanities of our daily lives insist on pulling us away from unending meditation. But when we do turn our backs in obedience, we find his glory reflected still. He is there to be experienced in the trivialities and in the routines. He is shining all around us. We only need eyes to see.