God's world is full of things that idealize. The less distinct lights, dawnlight and twilight, starlight and the bewitching moonlight, cast a rare spell over nature. The snow gently covers up earth's rough, unkempt places with its soft clinging white. The green mantle does the same kindly service during the other half of the year. Distance has a peculiar power to close our eyes partly so that only the pleasing outlines are seen. The artist has caught the same fine touch from the hand of God. How a picture idealizes, whether in paint or water-colour, or made by the touch of the sun upon the photographer's chemicals! The halo of the ideal glamours over every poverty-stricken corner, and every crude and coarse surface.
So, too, God has taught the human heart to idealize. For nothing can exceed or equal the power of love to see the ideal, and be gripped and swayed by it. The neighbour sees a freckled-faced, short-nosed boy, but the mother sees only a face of beauty, and out of its eye looks a man, who is going to help shape, and maybe shake the world. The inspector at Ellis Island sees only a couple of bundles being tugged and lugged along by some skirts and a bright-coloured shawl, but the young husband impatiently waiting at the gate, whose hard-earned savings have brought her over, sees the winsome maiden whose face still holds him in thrall.
So the inspiring vision of God comes over all life. The idealizing of the outer world is one of God's ways of teaching us to see the beauty and fineness that lie hidden in the uncouth and rough and commonplace; the victory that waits our grasp within every difficulty. It spells out for us the great simple secret Paul had learned: while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things that are seen are often coarse and commonplace and are only for a passing hour; but the things that are not seen are full of beauty and power, and last forever.
The God-touched eye sees through fog and smoke to the unseen harbour beyond. It insists on steering steady and straight regardless of the storm overhead, and the rock or snag underneath. There is a victory in hiding in every knotty difficulty. Every trying circumstance contains a song of gladness waiting to be freed by our touch. Each disheartening condition can be made to grow roses.
Every man you meet has the image of God upon his face, though so often blurred and marred. Jesus saw a pure redeemed life in the Sychar outcast, and then released it out into blessed messenger service for Himself in her native town. The Jesus-taught man learns to look quickly through soil and sin to the human life within, waiting the transforming touch of sympathy and help. In one of his books, "Salted with Fire," George MacDonald tells of a young woman who had been led astray. A warm-hearted minister found her one night on his doorstep, and guessing her story, brought her into his home. His little daughter upstairs with her mother asked, "Mamma, who is it Papa has in the library?" And the wise mother quietly replied, "It is an angel, dear, who has lost her way, and Papa is telling her the way back." There are a great many all around us needing the same seeing eye and warm hand, though not fallen as low as she.
Life has a great holy purpose to be gripped and won, or done; it is not for mere money-getting, or pleasure-seeking and -sipping. All life is splendidly worth while because of what can be done. Every new day is marked red for us in the calendar of God, for what He means it to bring to us, and to carry from us to others. Each dawning morning is big and bright with new victory eagerly waiting our winning hand.
Ideals grip us, and key us up to doing our best, and giving our best. This is God's plan. They are as the unseen face of God wooing us up the heights. They grow roses in our skies and roses in our eyes, and the fragrance sweetens the air, and freshens our hearts, even while our feet are plodding the old beaten path.