The Audacity of Beauty

Bear with me here as I try to express that for which words are woefully inadequate

One of my passions is jigsaw puzzles, puzzles of scenery, waterfalls, unusual architecture, sunrises, sunsets, aurora borealis, animals, trails, parks, paintings, cathedrals: man’s attempt to recreate or capture that which God draws and paints with His fingers on a daily basis. I am so in awe of the Master Creator, that He would deem to share His art, His handiwork with the likes of man, who ignores Him, takes Him for granted, denies Him, shakes its fist at Him, and dares Him to show Himself, as if He hadn’t already in so many tangible and intangible ways. I cry with the psalmist, “Who am I Lord, that you would be mindful of me?” Who am I, precious Jesus, You who hold the worlds in Your two hands, that You would esteem me high enough, worthy enough, to share Your creation with? And this world is decaying, rotting away, and we see it as beautiful. Thank You, dear Lord, for this and so much more. Thank You for the pictures You paint for us every day. Help us to pay more attention to what You are trying to teach us in Your handiwork.

Heaven’s Jubilee

I am continually amazed at God’s grace and mercy. I am so thankful I’m not getting what I deserve because all I deserve is hell. That knowledge keeps me from getting upset if someone belittles me or puts me down, because when that happens I remind myself that at least I’m not getting what I deserve–hell. Jesus was perfect and he was tortured–because of me. There’s a song that says When He Was On The Cross I Was On His Mind. So true. Because Jesus, who is part of the triune Godhead, saw me from the foundation of the world and decided to take my penalty for sin so I wouldn’t have to. He did the same for you and everyone on the planet–past, present, and future. It’s up to us to decide whether or not to accept such an extravagant gift.

Luke 15:7, 10 tells us that when a person gets saved (that means asking God for forgiveness, and for God to adopt that person into His family) all of heaven rejoices. Every time a person gets saved it’s party time in heaven. I don’t know what parties in heaven are like but I’m sure they’re thousands of times better than anything down here. There’s no drunkenness, no debauchery, no hangovers, no guilt, just supreme joy–jubilation, ecstatic excitement, overwhelming joy bubbling over into gales of laughter and singing. I imagine it as that exuberance you feel when you first meet that special someone and fall in love with him or her. It’s like standing on the mountain top, looking out over range after range, feeling as if you could hold the whole world in your heart and see beyond the farthest reaches. I know that’s how I felt when I got saved. 

There is no greater sense of freedom than knowing your sins are washed away and God is going to make you a new person, shedding off (over time; it’s a process) the old attitudes, the hang-ups, the worries and fears. I gave Him my temper and asked Him to replace it with His peace. He did. I asked Him to make me the wife my husband needed me to be so our marriage would be saved. He did. I asked Him to teach me to be kind and to think more of others and less of myself. He did and He isn’t finished yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done. God never sleeps and He never gives up on His children. I like the song that says He’s Still Working On Me. 

I’m not perfect; just forgiven. I fall down and He picks me up. I stumble and cry and He wipes away my tears and gives me the strength to keep trying. Two of my favorite phrases: I am too blessed to be stressed; too anointed to be disappointed and KNOW PEACE–KNOW GOD; NO PEACE–NO GOD. Oh, let me add one more. There’s a phrase in the Bible repeated throughout that says, “And it came to pass.” I love that because it means “It didn’t come to stay.” Whatever problem we face, whatever trial or heartache we’re going through, when we put our trust and hope in Jesus, He will work it all out for our good (Romans 8:28–my life’s verse). We will not be stuck with the situation–not even this plague of sugar ants we’ve had for months. But this world is not my home. My real home is in heaven. For now I’m just a sojourner.

 

Who Is Jesus?

Today is Sunday, the day the apostles and the early Christians met together to worship God. In our society today there seems to be much confusion over who Jesus is, or was. The Muslims say he was a good man and a great prophet. The Jews think he was a heretic. In Mark 8:27-29 Jesus was asking his disciples who people were saying he was. The answer was that some people were saying he was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets come back to life. Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said Peter answered correctly.

When Jesus was resurrected from the dead he appeared to the discipes in an upper room at least twice. One of those times the disciple Thomas was absent; another time Thomas was there. Thomas had doubted the report that Jesus had returned from the dead and said he would not believe unless he could put his finger in the nail prints in Jesus’s hands and thrust his hand in the wound made a sword in Jesus’s side. When Jesus appeared to Thomas he encouraged Thomas to do those things. When he did he answered with awe and wonder and proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” 

Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his words but received them gladly. If he had just been a good man or a prophet he would have rebuked Thomas. Because Jesus was fully God and fully man (don’t try to figure it out; our little finite minds can’t comprehend the mind of God) he accepted Thomas’s worship. Jesus was the only one qualified to pay our sin debt because he was the only perfect being to ever have lived. And the good news is–He is alive today. 

For those who choose to doubt and not believe, I’m praying for you. It is your choice to believe or not. But here’s the crux of the matter: If I’m wrong I have nothing to lose. I’m no worse off than as if I didn’t believe. However, those who choose not to believe have everything to lose: eternal life, peace with God, peace and blessings in this life, especially during difficult times. It is God who has kept my marriage together. It is God who calms my fears. It is God who changed me from a whining, self-centered, negative wretch to a happy, positive, outgoing, other-people-centered person.

Give God a chance. You’ll be glad you did.