by Sam Williamson
my life I failed to appreciate beauty. Oh, I
loved the look of sails on the sea and snow
on the mountains, but mostly I liked sailing
those sailboats and skiing those
Fifteen years ago, I learned to scuba dive. On
our first dive, my sons and I wobbled our way
to the sea in unwieldly gear, inserted our
mouthpieces, lowered our heads beneath the
waves, and dived. In fifteen feet of water, we
entered a cloud of thousands of small yellow
and white, black-striped fish. We could see
nothing but a beautiful gallery of sparkling
And the beauty of their colors, and the shimmer
of their glory, delighted and enthralled me.
Yesterday I joined two friends to talk with a
woman about her calling. And she talked only of
beauty. She shared the glory of seeing a
sunrise, and sparks of hope in the cracks of a
frozen harbor, and satisfaction in a
sunset-pond. And she spoke of the healing
wholeness of beauty.
Hearing her reminded me of the first time I was
captivated by beauty.
This morning I read Psalm 27 as part of my
Scripture meditation. When I read verse 4,
something again was awakened.
One thing have I
asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
… to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord….
And I wondered, “What the heck does it mean
to gaze on the beauty of God?”
It’s Not Escape
The verse before David’s puzzling gaze-phrase
describes enemies who wish to “eat up my flesh”
and “war rising against me,” and the verses
after it speak of enemies who “surround him” and
false witnesses who “breathe out violence.” And
later, parents who “forsake” him.
David longs to “gaze on the beauty of the Lord”
in the middle of horrific suffering and threats.
Ernest Becker (in his Pulitzer Prize book, Denial
of Death) said it this way:
seriously means that whatever you do must be
done in the lived truth of the evil and terror
of life, of the rumble of panic underneath
David’s longing for the beauty of God is
neither an escape from that terror of
life, nor a mere means of coping with
the rumble of panic beneath everything.
This longing means we can triumph
amidst the evils of life, simply by fixing our
eyes on the beauty of God.
It’s Not Exploitation
I love snowcapped mountains and sea-bound
sailboats because I use them for skiing and
sailing. Sure, I like to look at them, but even
more, I like to use them.
God’s nature is incredible, but too often I
just want to use it: I love his power because I
can ask of him, or his justice because I can
appeal to him, or his righteousness because he
gives it to me. Even his fatherhood, because he
But for me to appreciate his beauty means I
value him just for who he is, no requests, no
exploitation, no “using” him to further a
ministry or a good cause.
Just to gaze on him and say “In seeing you, I
have all that I need.” It means to be
overwhelmed with the beauty of God. To be
satisfied with him alone.
His Spirit in us sees his beauty, and we
Sam Williamson has published
numerous articles and has written two books.
has a blog site, www.beliefsoftheheart.com,
and can be reached at
New book by Sam Williamson
God in Conversation: How to Recognize His
Voice Everywhere published by Kregel
available from Amazon
review by Don Schwager
scuba diver and school of french grunts
(top), copyright by Brian Lasenby at