Read Philippians 4:1-9.

Maybe you aren’t such a big fan of the mountains. The ‘beauty’ out there really doesn’t do that much for you, and the strain and pain of the hike are such a drain. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

I have a word for you: get out there. It seems to me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder in one sense only: whether you see it. Someone finds something beautiful and you don’t see it? Open your eyes. Look deeper.

Endure the strain to obtain the gain. You may have to look behind a facade that doesn’t attract to see the hidden beauty. But when the beauty is seen, it becomes a part of you. It changes you.

Of course, if you focus on the ugly facade, that becomes a part of you too.

Paul has a word for all of us, intended to make us beautiful: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, meditate on these things. . . and the peace of God will be with you.”

I have sometimes wondered where the beauty we see comes from. Is it in the world? In us?

Where does love come from? Why do we love? Why do we value love? (If indeed we do value it.) Do we love love? And where does that love come from? Was it a part of creation? Was it blowing in the wind?

All images of God fall short, and yet images are where we start. I have imagined God as a great ball of fire. A sun. In it there is an enormous quantity of roiling fire, of pure energy, emanating as heat and light that radiate out and reach to the ends of the universe, turning everything in their path into fire. This sun sends off great gouts and small sparks of fire that fly out into the universe and turn into stars and planets, which in turn emit other gouts of fire.

That energy is love. As Jonathan Edwards says, the affections are the mainspring of the will. That love is pure will. Goodwill.

Sparks of goodwill fly out of God as he speaks and coalesce into stars and planets and all creatures. At great distance, they may cool and look more like ashes than sparks, but if they return they start to glow.

I think it’s fascinating that theologians say that creation was out of nothing, but if you actually read Genesis 1, it is described more as a process of separation and making fertile.

Meditate on that sun. Meditate on the life of Christ. Open your eyes and let in the light, see the beauty. And you will be filled with light.

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and