Beauty ruminates in the dead places known as our souls

Real beauty transcends the captivity of bitterness and death

The beauty of the Christian life is that Life has come to we who were dead and without hope. There couldn’t be anything more beautiful than a God who is ever life-infusing and -reforming our warped spiritual corpses.

With that said, who can agree with me that they would rather be loved because they are inherently beautiful; recognized by God because they are naturally striking than be a recipient of all the above because God is these things though we are not.

It is a difficult case to adopt for most of us, but it is the case that represents the truest sense of who we are, who God is and what His plans are for us.

God did not save us so that He could make a brilliant show of who we are; for how can a description-defying God, who loves holiness and beauty, be satisfied with personally exalting the gore of sin and death that we represent without Him? No, as debasing as it is to us, He chose to save us so that He could make a statement about who He is that can be both seen and heard by the whole world for now and eternity.

Christ uses suffering to make us well

There is nothing like knowing that you will be okay when God gives you a glimpse of

how in control He is of your circumstances,

how capable He is of unveiling more of His glory to you in it, and

how adept He is in transforming your heart by its pressure.

Love Him even if He is all you have! If testing is what He has chosen for you, then appreciate the fact that there was likely no other way you could have become pliable enough for God’s love to freely mold you.

Consider the trial-testimonies of others, and ask your Savior for new insight in reflecting on yours. Our stories are not so different; they will always reflect the same truths that we need to see, if we are first conscious of the same God at work behind them.

Our Lord has enabled me to face and endure the testing of so many things that I never could have faced or come through alone. This is how the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to accomplish the revelation of grace in our lives: It corrals us into positions from which we might be most certainly impressed by our need for His sacrifice and by His willingness to offer it.

Evil is my greatest witness to Christ

Is your God big enough to handle the evil in your life?

Is your Redeemer righteous enough to work all those difficulties you face into a marvelous backdrop for the work He is doing in you?

When your closest family, friends and coworkers disappoint you, and there is no immediate success to lift your spirits, can the Master of your soul be trusted to harvest an abundance of virtue in you even if He chooses to do it with the help of these frustrations?

Can your God be good and unsurpassed in blessing and honor even when your life and dreams are falling apart all around you?

Is your God worthy of the same praise in the storm as in the calm?

To be honest, I think the answer to all of these questions is yes. But in regard to the last one (on the appropriateness of praise in life’s moments of storm and calm), I think a mere affirmation is insufficient. I believe it is absolutely true to say yes, but lets not stop there; this scenario represents such struggle for our souls that we need to clarify the substance of this position more so.

We rejoice in trial for one reason: When the night is darkest He shines brightest. All of our once-lovely-but-insufficient hopes are easily extinguished in a black-out like this, but the Light who once seemed dispensable has become our only remaining beacon.

It is then that we rise up with the Psalmist to boast that He has become our salvation. He was our Lord before this; we knew Him as Friend from our birth; but today — against the backdrop of our undeniable weakness — something has taken place that will forever change our life and relationship with Him: Today we have seen Him who rescues the distressed; the One whose praises the universe shouts from end to end: “Our God — Oh, how blessed we are! — He is mighty to save.”

I die when pride and I collide

Turning against God cursed the understanding and vision of we earthly-dwellers. Created to embrace Life in its fullness through our relationship with Him, we live isolated and largely dull existences because we have wandered so far away from Him. It is no wonder that we live for the power and prestige that we can create, rather than for the passion and promotion of what God has already created.

When I think about success, I normally evaluate my goals, my disappointments and how these things make me feel. This leads me to ask questions that begin with why, center on me, and pose a problem with God‘s exercise of His sovereignty.

Evidently I have not had my soul satisfied in Christ to the extent that work and its potential for personal recognition will not keep me on a see-saw of egocentric emotions. There is yet sin that chains my heart to hopes that cannot recognize Christ as King. Hopes that will never allow me to recognize freedom in the alliance to things eternal and incomparable.

I have no choice but to confess to Him the loyalties of my deity-dethroning heart. My tension is self-inflicted, yet used by God to point out the weakness of my hold on grace; the dimness of my focus on Christ.

God has so much more for me — like Him — but I can’t see any of it unless He commands the computations of my brain and the desires of my heart. God often alerts me to our need for Him to take more Elaine-ground with a simple question that gets right to the central error He wants to deal with in my heart. Two nights ago it was

What is your definition of success?

Is it what you can hold onto of

ability

beauty

competition

dominion

excellence

fluidity

god-ness

hierarchy?

What if Mine was the success and there was nothing besides that? What if you live not to succeed, but to soak Me up? To revel not in making much of yourself, but in letting Me make much of Myself to you?

What else could I respond but with gratitude that my Lord would convict me of my sin and lead me to repentance?

Father, let Your Son be my joy; let His sacrifice and reward be my boast. May this life be my only life — a beauty and satisfaction that drips down into the empty vessels of my words and acts.

Don’t let me miss the point of living and working, Lord; it can only be to know Christ and Him crucified, for this is the only peace and joy for me and my world.

Reveal the truth of who You are to me in a new degree that I might freely acknowledge that I am nothing to promote, but that my worth is revealed in who I get to promote. My joy and peace and satisfaction is also summed up in the greatness of You and not of me. You don’t need me to promote You, but surely I need to promote You. To be consumed with making You known I must first be consumed with knowing You.