A few years ago, I was in Zambia, Africa with a group from the church I attended all growing up. We were there doing a Vacation Bible School for hundreds of kids in two different locations – one in the city of Lusaka and another in a very rural area called Mongu.
On our way from one place to the other, we made a stop and stayed overnight at a safari lodge in the middle of nowhere. And I mean like nowhere-nowhere. When we arrived, we dropped off our belongings in our rooms that looked like little huts, ate dinner outside under an awning made out of straw, then headed out on our first safari experience. We bundled up in sweatshirts and ponchos, jumped in a small boat with a hole in the bottom of it to cross a river, and then proceeded to load up in the safari vehicles. After multiple hours of seeing all the classic African safari animals (including a cheetah just a few feet away from our vehicle!), it was very late, and we climbed back into the boat to head to our rooms.
As I was in this little boat, slightly terrified that well, one, the boat was going to sink considering someone was scooping water out the bottom, and two, I was going to get attacked by a hippo or crocodile (I may have been just slightly dramatic), I experienced Jesus in the most profound, beautiful way I ever had before.
This experience started by simply looking up. That’s really all there was to it. As my eyes rolled up, my chin slowly lifted as well. I was looking all around, jaw slightly dropped, at the beauty that was endlessly surrounding me. I stared into the dark night sky that was lit up with stars as if it were city lights in New York. It looked as if God had literally dumped an extra large container of glitter (every parent’s worst nightmare) all throughout the sky. The stars were glistening and shimmering, and you could even see deep blue and green galaxy colors shining. It left me completely amazed by the creator of the world, the maker of all good and beautiful things, my Savior.
Do you want to know what really left me in awe though? I mean, yes, I was amazed that God created each and every one of those shining stars. Yes, I was amazed that he placed them perfectly in the sky and knew the exact count of them. I was also truly amazed that I even had the opportunity to look at something that was filled with such beauty. However, I was left in awe by a simple truth – this magnificent sight wasn’t made in God’s image. Yet, I am.
Me? Created with more intentionality than all those stars? Created with a greater purpose? Created to bear more beauty than the sky that left me speechless? Created in God’s image when even something as beautiful as that was not? This is the truth that left me in complete awe.
Genesis 1 is where we can read all about God creating the world and things in it. It is incredible to me that in Genesis 1:26-28, we read that God did not just create humankind, but he created humankind in his own image. He created us to bear certain qualities and characteristics that resemble him. These are qualities that no other part of creation can bear. We are able to share with God attributes such as his love, truth, wisdom, humility, and beauty. He created us in a way to image who he is and ultimately bring him glory as we reflect his heart in all that we do. Because we are created in his image, because we share attributes with him as we are made new, we have the ability to bear a much greater beauty than any sky full of stars.
I was amazed by the sky, because of its beauty, but there truly is not a more beautiful image than living in a way that reflects God and brings him all the glory and honor. May we live in a way that shines and reflects the beauty of who God is and who he created us to be.