You may have noticed that over the past few weeks I have been reviewing books that come from a little bit off the beaten path, so to speak. I have been reading, enjoying and reviewing books that have come our way from lesser-known Christian publishers. It turns out there are some fresh, excellent titles coming from some of these smaller publishers.
From Credo House Publishers and author Steve DeWitt comes Eyes Wide Open, a book about learning to enjoy God in everything. Let me say it from the outset: this is a really good book. I enjoyed it thoroughly and benefited in very specific ways from the time I spent reading it. Let me tell you about just one of the most important things I learned.
The place to begin when considering the topic is with a question like this one: Why do I enjoy _________ so much? You can fill in that blank with a kind of food or a form of art or even with a beautiful landscape. Why do you enjoy that thing so much? What draws you to it? What does it do in you and for you?
DeWitt wants to help you appreciate those things even more than you do now, and in order to do that, you need to understand beauty and joy and wonder from a biblical perspective. You need to know why God made this world as wondrously beautiful as he did. The author’s reflections on this topic, more than anything else in the book, have resounded in my mind and heart.
Beauty was created by God for a purpose: to give us the experience of wonder. And wonder, in turn, is intended to lead us to the ultimate human expression and privilege: worship. Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of the beauty with praise and thanksgiving.
This was tremendously helpful to me, this idea that beauty is meant to evoke wonder. Wonder, in turn, is meant to lead us to worship. The analogy of the map is helpful–beauty is meant to point us to the source of all beauty. It’s a simple progression: Beauty to wonder to worship.
Of course we live in a sinful world and have sin-stained hearts. Too often we allow beauty to lead us to wonder and we then get fixated on the wonder or the beauty without ever getting to the worship. Why do we worship so little even when we wonder so much? Reflecting on this DeWitt writes,
We are confused about where to place the glory. Beauty still creates wonder, and wonder still searches for someone to give glory for the beauty. Without God, however, we are left to worship the artist or simply the beauty for its own sake. We worship created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Our wonder turns onto itself. We worship things, stuff, and matter.
I see this most clearly in music. Excellent musicians evoke wonder in their listeners; their listeners express this wonder in worship of the musician. What we ought to do, of course, is allow the beauty of the music to move us to worship God. The same is true of a great meal or a great painting; even while we affirm the skill of the chef or artist, our worship should be directed at God alone. That is just one reflection, one application, from this excellent new title.
Eyes Wide Open is a very enjoyable, very quotable book, and one that made an immediate impact on my life. It was a book that showed up unannounced and a book that was just exactly what I needed to read at this time. I am glad to commend it to you.