The first full breath of spring filled my lungs. I stepped outside surprised and all at once surrounded by the glow of the midday sun on an oddly warm March day. I had come out to find out why one of the girls were crying and paused to soak in the subtle shock of our sudden spring. We bought the house in the dead of winter, brushing snow aside to inspect the cement and so on, but now, the neighborhood is coming alive in ways that thrill me.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory” (Is 6:3).
The “Holy holy holy” of Isaiah 6 reminds me, like Isaiah, of my own lack, my own sinfulness. And rightly so! The Lord is perfect and I daily struggle with my flesh, even as a redeemed child of God. But because Christ died and lives again, interceding on my behalf, His throne is a throne of grace for me.
But I (normally) am missing the point. The angels, when they said this, were not focusing on my sin, they were singing of His loveliness. And the whole earth is full of it. The angels looked at the glory of this world: the canvas that He crafted to show His glory, the stage He erected to play out His splendor, the pages where He is both author and the main character. They burst into worship continually.
Boxes, boxes, boxes. That is what the angels would say if they commented on my “throne room”, or rather, my house, since there is no throne and there would be no time to sit on one if there was. We just moved in and truly, you cannot know how much stuff you have until you try to pack it all into boxes and move it to another place. I estimate that I had purged about half of everything we owned during the pandemic, and yet, my new basement looks like a half-hearted entry to the Hoarders TV show. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but the cheerios have successfully made their way into the crevices of our new home. They’ve triumphantly rolled or bounced into every open space, like proud marching toddlers.
We’ve moved in.
And just like that, the home is no longer pristine. There’s God’s glory here? In the disarray of almost emptied moving boxes? This shouldn’t be so difficult for me. But between the moments of exhausted wonder at 5 am that had me tearfully thanking the Lord for this new home to sheer frustration at Adele’s new “playdough ice cream syrup” that spilled and stained our “new-to-us” dining room table pink (all moms everywhere, be warned), I am determined to bring this house into submission. This house will become a home. But with its lovely white railings and generous appliances that politely sing happy diddies at me whenever they need to be closed, switched, emptied or just complimented; it seems that there is a never ending parade of things to be arranged or put away.
That is what my hands are busy with and my feet are weary over; and so I easily miss the glory that is meant to teach me “holy, holy, holy” is my Lord.
Did He have to make lonely old maples that take over the sky in the dining room window? Did He have to give us the ability and brilliance to make homes that stand for 100 years and still look stately and calm all lined up in their rows? Or flowers that unfailingly come up in the spring, blanketing yards in delicate purple, yellow and white? Or the hands that skillfully slip, slip, slip the paint on our walls in perfect lines with no tape to help them? He didn’t have to, but He did. Why?
The whole earth (that is, truly, the everything — your home, my home, and everywhere else) is full of His glory. Another translation of that sentence in Hebrew says, “the fullness of the whole earth is His glory,” (Rigney 73) which stirs the heart doesn’t it? God intends for the tiny spring blooms to teach us His gentleness. The clapping of the trees to swell in worship. He means for me to pause and hear the giggles of my little ones and know the rippling joy that inhabits His own heart. And yes, dirty railings speak of His blessing – namely – children. And He means for His image bearers to create beauty — and they did. Even here, in this rough and blighted city with such architectural brilliance. Stately buildings like my home that have stood soberly watching the decades pass.
And He means for us to live and worship, here, right now. In the moment, whether your home is “boxes, boxes, boxes,” like mine, or “clutter, clutter, clutter,” “trendy, trendy, trendy,” or “empty, empty, empty.” Ask Him to open your eyes to see what He loves about it. What did He place around you (or in you!) that proclaims a unique message about Him?
Because here’s the thing: there’s glory in the stretch marks and muddy fingerprints (and in cleaning said fingerprints!) because you’re raising souls for His kingdom; there’s glory in the perfectly decorated living room and clean paint lines because they reflect the beauty and balance that fills the planet He spun from nothing; there’s glory in old houses and blooming wildflowers and cluttery basements that whisper the memories of faithful people. We can glory in what we see, because what we see is not all there is. He is what is, He eternally is. And while all this will be burnt up, until then, it is all serving a purpose: to point us to Him. It’s all just a parable with a deeper meaning — to point us to the Creator that loves messy kids, sentimental women, and faithful people leaning on Him in hard times. And He loves beauty, whether you live in it, it grew outside your window or you picked it up at Hobby Lobby.
Rejoice in it all, and remember He is “Holy, holy, holy.” The whole earth is full of His glory, if we only stop to see it.
¹The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, by Joe Rigney, Crossway, 2015, p. 73.