Wednesday, October 20, 2010

John Piper, The Pleasures of God

I do not like poetry. Bleck. My philosophy is why be scrimping with words when we have so many good ones to choose from? And they're free! Why not use as many as possible? (Actually, I'm most committed to this philosophy when I'm doing the writing. I adhere to a much more moderate stance when someone else is writing.)

In addition, poetry requires no end of trouble to ferret out any semblance of meaning. If you've got something to say, by all means, make yourself clear! Get to your point and use as many words as necessary! Spare us the painful puzzles and symbols and guessing games.

The past month or so, however, I have been ever-so-slowly making my way through a book recommended by my older son, John Piper's The Pleasures of God. In chapter 3 he talks about the pleasure of God in His creation. He quotes a stanza from a poem written in 1751 by Thomas Gray called, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." It is pithy, not too difficult to understand, and I must admit, I love the thought so much that my antipathy toward verse is, for the time being anyway, somewhat mitigated.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

I get that, and I love its meaning. Actually, John Piper expounded further upon the meaning:

Gray had been moved by the thought that on the bottom of the ocean there
were beautiful gems that no human eye would ever see, and that in distant
deserts millions of flowers would bloom, blush with vivid colors, give off a
sweet fragrance, and never be touched or seen or smelled by anybody but

This is what moves the psalmist in Psalm 148:7, "Praise the Lord you sea monsters and all deeps!" He doesn't even know what is in all the deeps of the sea! So the praise of the deeps is not merely what they can testify to man. Creation praises God by simply being what it was created to be in all its incredible variety. And since most of the creation is beyond the awareness of mankind (in the reaches of space, and in the
heights of mountains and at the bottom of the sea) it wasn't created merely to
serve purposes that have to do with us. It was created for the enjoyment
of God! (p. 89, The Pleasures of God)
Of course I love that verse because I am, undoubtedly, the flower that blushes unseen. I'm not sure how much sweetness is getting wasted exactly, and I prefer to see myself on a hidden mountaintop than the desert, but the sentiment still applies. Even I do not exist for any reason but to please God.

My worth is in no way connected to that rousing chorus of adoring masses constantly badgering me, as flattering as that has always been. =)

Thank you, John Piper!

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