Fill Our Hearts Till They Break
From Gospel Translations
We bought the house because of a window.
We were worn out from looking, and the sun was setting on the real estate market before another Minnesota winter. The pictures online were poor enough that I didn’t want to drive even two short miles to see it. But my wife prevailed, and we went.
When you walk in our front door, it grabs your attention from across the room. Four feet tall and five feet long, framing five massive trees in our backyard, each fifty feet tall. We hadn’t even seen a bedroom or a bathroom yet, but we were sold. When we looked out that big, beautiful window, we saw a bigger, more beautiful God. Seeing so much of him made our house feel like home even before we moved in.
Hints of the Highest
The more we’ve looked out that window, the more we have experienced the pleasure of God in his creation and the beauty of God himself in his creation. As John Piper writes,
God means for us to look at his creation and say: If the mere work of his fingers is so full of wisdom and power and grandeur and majesty and beauty, what must this God be like in himself! These are but the backside of his glory, as it were, darkly seen through a glass. What will it be to see the Creator himself! Not his works! A billion galaxies will not satisfy the human soul. God and God alone is the soul’s end. (The Pleasures of God, 94)
The white trim around our window frames one big and beautiful cry: What must God be like!
If the sky can be this blue, and trees can grow this tall, and tiny birds can display this much color, how big and powerful and creative and satisfying must God be! Piper continues, “The message of creation is this: there is a great God of glory and power and generosity behind all this awesome universe; you belong to him; he is patient with you in sustaining your rebellious life; turn and bank your hope on him and delight yourself in him, not his handiwork.”
How desperately we need to hear that message in the midst of the stresses and challenges of everyday life. And yet we do not hear it if we do not slow down and look. Where do you see or hear or smell or taste or feel creation hinting at the glory of God?
Six months after we moved in, the water heater gave out and dumped thirty gallons into our basement. Just as we had almost finished painting, carpeting, and arranging furniture, we were back to tearing out carpet, ripping out walls, and throwing out furniture. The window suddenly seemed smaller for a few days.
Standing in squishy carpet, surrounded by piles of wet possessions and debris from the walls, anxiety rushed in where the water was beginning to dry. Months of work ruined. Unexpected expenses and inconveniences. Insurance adjustors, mitigation specialists, general contractors, and (inevitably) missed or delayed deadlines. Weeks or months of work ahead. How will it all get done? What about our plans for this month? How will we pay for the damage?
Then the Spirit prompted us, as he has many times before, but now in a new and unexpected way, “Do not be anxious about your life” (Matthew 6:25).
Consider the Tulips
It was October when we first saw the house, after most of the leaves had already fallen. Now, over the last month, we’re discovering the previous owner’s decades-long love for flowers. First came bright yellow daffodils by the mailbox, then a couple dozen tulips along the front of the house, then white peonies exploded in the backyard. Our neighbor tells us more will bloom all the way through August.
As we stared out our favorite window, tempted to give in to anxiety about the water, the loss, and the construction, creation bloomed with the words of Jesus,
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28–30)
“I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” Consider the daffodils, the tulips, the peonies, and know that I will take care of your flooded basement. Know that I will take care of you.
Fill Our Hearts to Breaking
Just weeks, even days, after opening, the tulips are all gone. The daffodils have disappeared. Even the peonies have begun to wilt. More flowers will come, but they too will pass away as quickly as they came. The message in all the pedals on the ground is as profound as the biggest, most brilliant blooms,
“In the end it will not be the seas or the mountains or the canyons or the water spiders or the clouds or the great galaxies that fill our hearts to breaking with wonder and fill our mouths with eternal praise. It will be God himself.” (Pleasures of God, 94)
It won’t be the tulips or the peonies, the repaired basements or paid bills, the breakthrough at work or the mended relationship that fills our hearts until they break with wonder. Each is a window to God himself, another corner of creation shouting that only he will satisfy, another clear echo of Jesus’s voice, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
If anxiety threatens to stifle your joy in God or undermine your confidence in him, lift your eyes up from your problems and look closer at all that he has made.