Last week when I saw the weather forecast for this week (bright skies and sunny!), I was immediately in such a better mood. I felt joy at the prospect of moving out of a rainy, dark winter into the glorious summer. I envisioned beach trips, summer parties and lying by a pool with friends. Just a heads up, this is not what my summers look like, as I don’t live in the world of The Great Gatsby, but this is where my imagination will pretty much go as soon as the sun comes out. I found myself thinking on reflection “Isn’t it amazing that I can experience joy through the sun that God created and that He was kind enough to let me experience joy through that?!”
C.S. Lewis, in his book Surprised by Joy and essay The Weight of Glory focuses quite a lot on his experience of joy through creation. Before he knew God, he noticed he felt joy when looking at mountains or oceans, but struggled to keep hold of this joy as a constant thing in his life. The landscapes would be fleeting moments, and he would be left with a longing for joy that couldn’t be satisfied. He soon realised these experiences were only an echo of the fullness of joy that is found in God; if they are mistaken for joy itself, they become hollow idols.
What I grasped through Lewis’ writing is joy is experienced through creation not in it. The source of all joy is God; when He created this world, He didn’t make it completely apart from himself. We can know and experience joy through what He has made – mountains, people, music – because He has put joy into His creations. In Genesis 2, it says He ‘made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye’ (v.9).
Creation can be enjoyed and was made to be; God wants us to find beauty and joy through it. But it always speaks of Him, creation will never be separate from Him; it doesn’t want to be. In Romans 1, Paul writes ‘for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made’ (v.20). All creation points to a creator; it points to Him. All joy found through creation shouts of the source of joy itself – God.
This summer, I’ll be travelling to spend a week at a beautiful lake that was created by God. I will be looking up at mountains that were created by God and spending time in the sun which was also created by God. All the while, I’ll be able to think: ‘They all know His voice.’ Not only that, they are all worshipping Him, and all their splendour is pointing to Him. There will be many people there who don’t know God, but who I hope still experience joy through the creation in front of them, much like C.S. Lewis. It’s a wonderful thing that all the mountains around them will be speaking of God and pointing to God whilst they experience joy. I hope this sparks a desire in them to find the source of this joy.