Aug 8 2012

The Smile of God

Over the years I’ve heard people say to others about a deceased loved one, “Don’t you know he (or she) is smiling down upon you now?”  These words are usually spoken after someone has accomplished something and are meant to be comforting to the person who receives them.  Theologically, I’m not even sure such a thing is possible.  Can those in heaven really see what we’re up to?  I find that unlikely.  Still, I understand the sentiment.  There are times I’d like to think that my father or grandmothers were looking at me and had a smile on their face.  I’d like to think they were pleased with who I am and what I have done with my life.

Although I have serious doubts about my deceased loved ones being able to “smile down upon me” I do believe God does that all the time.  When we see loved ones we cannot help but smile and since we have it on good biblical authority that God loves each and every one of us immensely, then how can we not picture God smiling when He looks at us?  O, I know some think God is more likely to have a frown on His face when He looks at them but they simply don’t understand God’s love and grace.  By sending Jesus Christ God made it clear once and for all that we are loved. (John 3:16)  For me that is proof enough that God smiles when He looks at me.

But there is more proof waiting.  Robert Underwood Johnson, a close friend of John Muir, once wrote “To some, beauty seems but an accident of creation: to Muir it was the very smile of God.”  I’ve read enough of Muir’s writings to know that this is true.  Muir saw God’s love in all of His Creation and marveled that others did not see it there as well.

If we accept the concept of beauty being “the very smile of God” then we must conclude that God is not only “smiling down upon us” but smiling all around us too.  In beautiful trees and flowers, rivers and lakes, mountains and valleys, birds and butterflies, in all beauty, we experience the smile of God.  In these same things we experience the love of God.

I mentioned earlier that it would be nice to think my father or grandmothers were smiling down upon me, but even better is the thought that my heavenly Father smiles upon me.  And if Muir is right, and I believe that he is, then we have countless reminders all around us every day that we are loved.  Those reminders should bring us much comfort and joy.  I would even dare say that those reminders should bring a smile to our own face for in the presence of so much love and beauty how could it not?

–Chuck

(I took the magnolia blossom image at my home in Kentucky; the redwood trees in California, and the chukar in Hawaii.)