Don’t miss out on the beauty

There cannot be a more wild and dramatic place in Northern Ireland than the landscape park of Downhill and Mussenden Temple . The romantic vision of Frederick Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, he created an elegant mansion at Downhill, which now lies in ruins. On the nearby clifftop the Earl Bishop built the circular Mussenden Temple as his library, modelled on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.
There cannot be a more wild and dramatic place in Northern Ireland than the landscape park of Downhill and Mussenden Temple . The romantic vision of Frederick Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, he created an elegant mansion at Downhill, which now lies in ruins. On the nearby clifftop the Earl Bishop built the circular Mussenden Temple as his library, modelled on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.

Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

As Gem (our miniature Schnauzer) and I ambled along a quiet country road through the County Down hills recently, there was hardly an air.

There wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the bright blue sky, as the warm summer sun beat down upon us. The only sounds to be heard were the birds busy in the hedgerows, or the odd lamb bleating for its mum. We passed a lovely batch of heifers, red and white Simmental, full of milk, with thriving month-old calves at foot. On a day like that day, even I couldn’t miss the beauty.

Have you had that experience? Of the beauty of the world around us that hits you right between the eyes? I fear that sometimes we miss the beauty because we’re too busy to see it, hear it or touch it. It could also be that we’re so familiar with this stunning part of the world that we are blessed to call ‘home’, that we miss what is right in front of our eyes. We miss the beauty.

In his ‘The Weight of Glory’, Belfast-born writer, CS Lewis, tells us that seeing the beauty isn’t enough. That we want, somehow, to enter into it and become part of it: “We do not want merely to see beauty...We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

How is this possible? The answer is that Jesus is the doorway into sharing in the beauty, not only of the wonderful world that God has made, but the doorway to sharing in the beauty of God himself. For the most attractive thing of all about Jesus is not the amazing world that he made, but the God of the world with whom he offers to put us right.

God’s word, the Bible, paints this picture of Jesus: “... in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible...For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1).

Trusting in Jesus’ death, and with His enabling turning from our outright rebellion against God, is the only way we can be at peace with our Maker. It is this alone that enables us to show the unique God behind this incredible universe that we know there is no one else like Him. So have you truly begun to see His beauty? Have you truly begun to live for the God who is “altogether lovely” (Song of Songs 5:16)?

And when we enter into a living relationship, through Jesus with the God who is ‘altogether lovely’, we also begin to appreciate other people more - they become more than good neighbours, more even than family whom we cherish.

From now on, we see others as made in the image of God Himself, and, as such, we begin to value them more and treat them with the dignity they deserve.

Is there a wrong relationship with someone, made in the beautiful image of God, which you need to put right?

Rev. Kenny Hanna is minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church and grew up on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne.

If you would like to talk to someone about this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.