Last fall, as I drove to pick my daughter up from school, I caught myself gasping and saying, “Wow!” out loud over and over again. It seemed that with each turn I made, a whole new dazzling scene spread out before me. I saw the brightest fiery trees I have ever seen. Bright red, flaming orange, pale yellow, green, and a hundred combinations of those all at once covered the trees lining the streets. I could not help but grin and be amazed at what I was seeing. It brought so much joy to this girl raised in the desert.
As I marveled at the breath-taking fall colors all around me, I couldn’t help but wonder…if the explosion of fall colors is this beautiful on this fallen earth, where even nature groans under the curse of sin, what in the world will fall in heaven look like? Ezekiel 47 talks about the trees in heaven that grow along the banks of a river that flows out from the temple. It describes leaves that “never turn brown and fall.” I tried to imagine what that could look like. As I thought about this and kept looking at the dazzling beauty all around me, I thought, “What if it looks exactly like this, except without my sin in the equation?” How would my eyes perceive this very earthly scene of beauty if I were completely free of sin- mine, others’, and the effects of sin? I could gaze at this beauty without the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that what I talked about yesterday was probably gossip. I could take all of this in and not feel a deep down pang of sorrow at what so many loved ones are going through right now. I could behold His creation and worship Him completely free of having hurt or been hurt by anyone. I could just marvel at it all without even a trace of pain, shame or regret in the depths of my soul. Nothing could taint it. No death, no weariness, no sickness, no post-partum depression, no anxiety could cloud it. I would be whole and well and free of this terrible weight that we live under today. As I continued to think about this, as is often the case, my thoughts rose up from creation to the Creator. I thought, “If the fallen creation moves my heart this way, what will happen to my heart when my eyes see Jesus?” There is nothing in all of creation…heaven or earth, that could compare to His beauty. And I will see Him. I will see Him someday as I stand free and glorified, and completely out of the grasp of sin and its effects. I will be completely free and holy before Him. I was nearly overwhelmed at this thought when He spoke to my heart and said, “I already see you that way.” He sees me in the perfect righteousness of Christ. Because of His great atonement , He sees me completely holy and free before His eyes. It brings to mind the lyrics to an old hymn that says, “dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” We already stand faultless before Him, wearing the righteousness of Jesus, and I am pretty sure that in the eyes of God, there is nothing more beautiful than that. I believe that as we see the beauty of nature and lift our hearts to God and say, “Wow! How beautiful!” He looks back at us, dressed in his righteousness, and says, “My thoughts exactly.”