Posts tagged beauty
Posts tagged beauty
I think of home so often… No, I don’t mean my home at college. I don’t mean my home back in my hometown of Dallas. I don’t mean home anywhere on earth.
I mean home with You.
I can’t wait to go home! I don’t mean that to sound morbid or negative, like I am rushing to my death or taking this life for granted. I am so thankful for this life, God, I am, but I just want to be with You.
I often think of Psalm 23 when David speaks of You laying him down in beautiful green pastures with still waters around, plenty of food to eat, anointing his head with oil, and comforting him with Your rod and staff. He describes all of these amazing and peaceful things as what it is like to dwell in the house of the Lord. Oh, and he adds that he will be in Your house forever.
I want to go home, God. I long for You. I want to rest in Your house by Your table and still waters. What must it be like in Your house! Light eternal, peace everlasting, love unfailing, forever. And ever.
But I’m not done here yet, I know. Help me finish the race and finish strong. Show me what I must do while I am here and help me to run with strength and perseverance… but, when it is time, I beg You don’t delay a moment. Take me home, Lord. Take me to You.
Don’t you realize how special you are? I love every inch of you. You know, I could tell you the exact number of stars in the sky but I could also tell you the number of hairs on your head? That’s how precious you are. I care about every intimate detail about you, so much so, that I designed them all before the day of your birth. So I hate when you talk down about yourself. First, because I love you so much and second because you are saying that my work in you is imperfect. Beloved, I do not make ugly things. You are so beautiful.
You long for love in others, but you do not look for mine. I think you’re worth dying for and I want to show you the real meaning of love. Please, will you let me show you? You are worth nothing less than every drop of my blood, sweat, and tears.
I will literally go to the grave and back for you, my love. That’s how special you are.
Christianity is full of reversals. The master is required to become a servant. The first shall be last and the last shall be the first. The poorest beggar has more riches than the wealthiest king. Fiery, powerful words of hate are silenced by gentle whispers of love. Fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes make up the Kingdom of Heaven. God saved the world by coming into it as the child of a carpenter. The promised Messiah, who was described as the Lion of Judah, turned out to be a Slaughtered Lamb. And Death was finally conquered by dying on a cross.
From the outside, Christianity doesn’t seem to make much sense. That’s because, from a worldly view, it doesn’t really make sense! To be great, you must humble yourself? To have riches, give everything away? To find your life, you must lose it? It all sounds pretty, like some rot you’d read in a fortune cookie or some romance novel, but if we’re being realistic it appears impractical and often seemingly illogical.
That is the greatest beauty of it. Christianity is something you wouldn’t expect. That’s what struck me so much about it when I looked at all the world religions. Yes, yes, to be sure there are some similarities, but in order to find truth you cannot just look at similarities among beliefs but you must also take into account the differences. This is not to cause division or strife, but in order to see which one is really unique. When you do that, you find that Christianity has something else altogether. Every religion is essentially some formula to get in God’s good favor. They’re almost mathematical. I put ”x” into my life and get “y” out. Christianity is so different. God says, “Actually, you don’t need to earn my good favor. Here it is. I’m giving it to you out of grace because I love you. Now let me show you what real love and real life look like.” And wow, that life is like nothing we would have expected.
Christianity turns the whole world upside down. We don’t have to do something special to get to God because He came to us. The truth is not always easy, however, and it’s rarely what we expect. So, I guess that’s why Christianity makes sense to me. That’s how I know it rings true. It reverses everything I would have guessed. I know I couldn’t have made it up myself. I didn’t expect it. God loving me first? Well now, I didn’t see that one coming.
The things I think about late at night… The wheels in my mind are nearly always turning. I haven’t figured out if this is good or bad yet. Lately, aesthetics have been on my mind. What makes a thing beautiful?
My friends that I have met recently might not know it, but I try to use the word beautiful rather sparingly. In the past month or so I have absolutely beaten the term to death saying it, but it has been true every time nonetheless. I have met people I can only describe as beautiful. So I began to think about beauty and why I regarded these people and their minds and hearts as beautiful.
Beauty comes from God, I believe. I think God is the ultimate source of beauty. He is also truth. So does that mean that beauty and truth are the same thing? I should think so. That makes sense to me.
Still, I must caution people to make a distinction between “beautiful” and “pretty”. Pretty things are not always beautiful. I’ve seen a lot of pretty things that are just pretty, but they don’t hold that same weight and value as what I would regard as beautiful. They don’t communicate truth and they don’t radiate God’s glory, in other words, I suppose.
At the same time, ugly things are not always completely ugly. In many ways, they can be quite beautiful. A lot of the most lovely things in nature start out as something unattractive. Caterpillars and butterflies are the first examples that come to my mind here. A butterfly is so delicate, colorful, and beautiful but it starts off as an ugly worm-like thing that spins an even uglier cocoon. In this stage of life, the caterpillar is actually liquefied inside the cocoon before transforming into the fragile butterfly… What an ugly and messy process that yields such amazing results. Diamonds are the same way, too. A diamond begins as an ugly lump of coal before it is literally crushed and heated—such intense pressure and pain makes a shining, gorgeous stone. So, even nature cries out that God restores and changes the ugly things from within.
Of course, this all sounds so positively romantic and hopeful. Everyone wants to believe that hideous things can be transformed for the good. In the end, a butterfly is still an insect and a diamond is still a rock. Yes, yes, I have thought of these things as well. Still, I truly think that’s what the most beautiful things really are though. The things that start out as unlovely and undesirable often end up to be the most spectacular. So is beauty when an ugly thing is made pretty? And if beauty is truth, is this the truth of what God does and Who He is? Is He a transformer of not only the ugly in nature but also the ugly and broken hearts and lives of mankind?
I must say that yes, it must be so. My entire faith is based on that idea because one crucial, horribly ugly and stunningly beautiful historical event comes to mind. That event is, of course, the cross. All of life and nature is centered around the cross when you think about it. It was such an ugly thing, the cross! Christ was innocent and betrayed and deserted by the ones He loved! He suffered and bled and He was mocked and beaten. None of these things are pretty at all.
But all of them are beautiful. Rather, they became beautiful through Him. In suffering He took our place. We can now approach His throne with confidence because of His grace. Furthermore, He is a God who identifies with our sufferings! (Could anything be more wonderful than that? What other faith has this kind of God?) In death, He conquered it. He rose again. What hope we have for the future now!
What hope we have in the present as well… If He is a God who can make even the ugly, horrific cross a beautiful thing, how much more can He do in those who love Him? God, can You transform this misshapen heart into something lovely? I believe You can.
I’m so in awe of You. What joy you give me in even ugly circumstances; what peace I have in the storm. I hope everyone will someday see Your matchless glory and grace. I hope we will all one day relish in Your unspeakable love and beauty.