When I was young, I would beg my dad to pull over whenever we’d drive by a beautiful sunset. I didn’t know why, I just knew it was something too good to miss. I had to see it, had to take it in.
As a teenager, I became captivated by pornography. I didn’t know why, I just knew the images were intoxicating, and I wanted to see more.
As human beings, we long for beauty. To do so is in our DNA.
But there’s a difference between what I experienced gazing at the changing colors of the setting sun and what I experienced watching porn. Porn doesn’t act like beauty.
Imagine with me for a moment:
The first green of a crocus reaching up through the snow or the shade of a giant oak stretching across the grass, the deep roll of thunder from one end of the sky to the other or the soundlessness of the falling snow, the scent of fresh baked bread or the sudden spritz of aroma when an orange is peeled open, the softness of a baby’s cheek or the strength of a grown child’s embrace.
When we allow ourselves to behold beauty, it simultaneously draws us toward itself and remains slightly aloof, doesn’t it? It doesn’t allow us to possess it. Beauty gives abundantly, but it cannot be controlled.
Have you ever been swept off your feet by something beautiful and returned to repeat the experience, only to find yourself disappointed? Have you ever believed it couldn’t get any better and then out of the blue it does?
This unpredictability is a distinctive of beauty on the earth. Beauty insists on remaining free, fleeting, and untamed. It disappoints because beauty never intends to lure us to itself as an end.
Pornography, in contrast, like all sin, aims to keep you for itself, to deplete your will until you can no longer say no to it, and to make you love it most of all.
Beauty disappoints us in order to point our gaze to a higher place—to its source.
True beauty is humble. It hardly calls attention to itself, let alone insists you notice. You and I have always been free to drive right on by the sunset.
My dad, he stopped the car. He drank in grand sky with me. Together we shouted, “Whoa!” and “Wow!” unbidden. Together we sat silently in wonder.
Neither of us knew it, but those moments on the side of the road staring out the windshield were part of what awakened my heart to God, and part of what led me away from porn to Beauty Himself.
That’s what beauty aims to do.
This Thursday, please join me for Chasing Beauty, Regeneration’s annual dessert fundraiser in Baltimore. Pull over to the side of the road a while with us there to see and celebrate the beautiful things God is doing. You can register here.
If you’re unable to attend and you’d still like to contribute to the work of Christ through this unique ministry, you can do so by clicking here. Thank you so much!
Question: I’ve listed several things in this post that I find beautiful. What about you? What do you find beautiful? Share here.