Located in the Tasman Sea, Lord Howe Island is a paradise of white sands and subtropical rainforests. Shaped like a crescent, with beaches one side and a lagoon on the other, its crystal waters teem with life. Holidaying there once, I spent a morning swimming with playful turtles and shimmering spangled emperors while moon wrasse hovered nearby, their bodies flickering like billboards.
It was an experience I’ve never forgotten.
Wading waist-deep in the lagoon that afternoon, something caught my eye. Looking down I found a mini reef of multicoloured corals with a world of beautiful creatures scuttling around and through them. Butterfly fish with vibrant black and yellow stripes rushed here and there, along with Nemo-style clown fish with their big bulging eyes.
I towered like a giant over this thriving kingdom, but the inhabitants didn’t mind. When I slid a hand into the water, three butterfly fish came to greet me.
The sand, the water, the aquarium at my feet – it was so overwhelmingly beautiful. And it made me pause in reverence. C. S. Lewis described natural beauty like this as the “scent of a flower we haven’t yet found”. In other words, beauty like this points to a source.
When the Jewish prophet Ezekiel encountered God, he wasn’t shown a bearded man in white clothes. Instead, he saw a brilliant blue throne seating Someone as radiant as fire, with colours exploding all around him. Six hundred years later John the apostle saw something similar – a being sparkling like precious stones surrounded by a radiant rainbow.
In the Christian Scriptures God isn’t revealed as only good and powerful but beautiful too. And with the Psalms describing God as wearing creation like a coat, maybe we’ve found the hidden flower, the source of the world’s beauty – a beautiful Creator.
I’ll never forget that day on Lord Howe Island. And if C. S. Lewis is right, my reverence was appropriate. Because I wasn’t just encountering nature in that lagoon. I was glimpsing the very beauty of God.
This excerpt is taken from the new gift book Reflect with Sheridan by Sheridan Voysey, an Australian-born, British-based author, speaker and broadcaster. Watch him explain the heart behind Reflect with Sheridan.