True Beauty

“All beauty is only reflection.”

I read that today in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and it struck me as an incredibly profound but rarely verbalized truth.  Our culture worships beauty – never more so than now.  And whatever we were born lacking, we can purchase on a payment plan.  We can change shape, size, eye color and hair color.  We can de-wrinkle, fluff up, pouf out, and pay to look like we kissed the back end of every bee in a hive.

This kind of beauty – the kind that comes from a bottle or a syringe or a surgery – is it true beauty?  What about the beauty of a not-so-perfect looking, exhausted mother, tenderly caring for her special needs child day after day?

What about the beauty of utterly impoverished folk in a Third World country, walking mile after mile with no shoes to gather with other villagers and worship in grateful adoration?

What about the beauty of those who suffer for righteousness, whose stories and tears we will never know this side of Heaven?  And the beauty of those who humbly choose to forgive and bless when doing so exacts a great cost?

These, I propose, are the faces of true beauty.  And if “all beauty is only reflection”, as the moon is but a reflection of the glory of the sun, then of WHAT is it a reflection?  Or perhaps, of whom?

I believe the answer lies in a seemingly paradoxical ancient writing by the prophet Isaiah.  He writes prophetically of the coming Christ,

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Is. 53:2)

Isaiah had not yet seen this God-Man who, pierced and beaten, staggered under the weight of the sins of the whole world.  Under the weight of MY sin.  He hadn’t seen the weary trudging of dusty miles, the nights of no roof overhead, the aching loneliness.  He wasn’t there when this Man of no physical beauty gave life and dignity back to the woman with the issue of blood.  He didn’t get to watch as, with love in His eyes, He reached out and touched the shunned and miserable leper and made him whole.

Isaiah wasn’t there when the muscled back was laid open by a cat-o’-nine tails, only to then have a crude, heavy wooden cross placed on it.  The bleeding brow, the agony of slow suffocation…here, my friends, is beauty.

He endured that for you.  He endured that for me.  Oh, how beautiful He is!  Had Isaiah been granted just a glimpse, surely he would have asked how we could see anything BUT beauty in this consummate love and self-sacrifice.

Here is the beauty from which all other true beauty radiates.  And no matter what our past or our physical appearance, “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

So there you have it.  As you reflect the Beautiful One, you are beautiful.  True beauty.  Beauty of spirit that far outlasts fleeting physical perfection.

Beautiful friend, go do some reflecting today.  The world needs to see you shine.

With love,

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Photo credit: href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/bardia_photowork/9848140103/”>Bardia Photography</a> via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”> CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Peace – Need a Refill?

Sitting at our favorite secluded nature spot (as secluded as one can get in a booming suburban area!), watching ducks glide noiselessly across sparkling water and feeling a gentle breeze blow across my face, my soul drinks in the splendor of a profusion of green around me.  Trees, grass, vines, and bushes join together in a silent, joyous symphony.  I exult in the still peacefulness of it and inwardly join their chorus.  I heed their call to be still, to listen, and to simply and deeply breathe peace.

Oh yes, I left things undone at home to come here.  It was a choice.  My lengthy to-do list waits, a sinkful of dishes waits, along with a host of other items clamoring for attention.  But today it strikes me that peace is worth more than check marks on paper, and I could use a refill.  Would it have fed my soul to scrub pots?  Well…perhaps, if I scrubbed them in gratitude for the abundant provision they contained, heart uplifted to the Giver of all good things.  But at times to “seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14), I must remove myself from the tyranny of schedule and bring myself and my children to this sacred altar where we offer up our busyness as a sacrifice and receive in return beautiful quietness of soul.

After all, everything else will be waiting for me when I return home, but I will return different – better – for having come.  And when life presses in, as it invariably does, I will be better prepared to face it.  Peace will do that for a person.  Life’s reversals – they don’t tend to give us 6 weeks written notice.  From one moment to the next, everything can change.  But circumstances are outside my being.  I choose what goes on in my soul.  I choose to take times like this to quiet myself and reconnect with the foundational values that make me who I am.

Faith, most of all.  Family, dearly loved.  Friends who have been ministering angels time and time again.  That’s one of the best gifts peace offers its takers – time and inner space to lift our focus and be thankful.photo_3174_20070904

Peace – could you use a refill today too?  I doubt we’ll find it in the nightly news, the perpetual chatter of social media, or the relentless pursuit of materialism.

But when you and I choose to sit at the feet of the Prince of Peace and learn from Him, we become more like Him.  Slowly – little by little – the work of a lifetime…however long we have, starting today.

How much peace do we want?  A thimbleful?  A trickling stream?  Or a broad, deep, powerful river – strong enough to buoy us up even over the rapids, and safe enough for the smallest child?  The One who IS peace has enough for you.  All it takes is an open heart – your empty vessel to receive.  Maybe today you would like to find a quiet place to offer up your heart to Him for a peace refill – I, for one, am so glad I did.

With love,

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Coffee and cookies photo: Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/fiery-phoenix/8345691281/”>Fiery-Phoenix</a> via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”> CC BY-NC-ND</a>