Beautiful

iPhone pics 064Nothing is more beautiful than my wife. I guess you’d expect me to say that, after-all, I did marry her. But I’m not talking about just her outside beauty. While I certainly find her physically attractive, and appreciate that type of beauty, there is so much more that God shows be about the quality of her beauty all the time.

All we have to do to see what the world considers as beautiful these days is open the Sunday paper, or your favorite magazine. Spend ten minutes watching television, or take a walk through the local mall. To the world, while beauty may hold some variables based on culture and individual taste, is nonetheless about outward beauty. Vanity is the rule of the day. To some cultures, ringed necks and saucers inserted into their lips. In the U.S, stretched ear lobes, bogy covering tattoos, shape altering surgeries are all the norm. But what will those stretched ear lobes, faded tattoos and face-lifts look like in 10, 15, or 30 years from now? Will they all still be just as beautiful?

There is a constant struggle among the teen girls of today to have the right appearance; lots of make-up and at an early age, the right hair and nail polish, are all important. It seems that all the young ladies of today are either bulimic or obese, or that’s how many would have them believe. Then all of this is topped with provocative, or at the very least immodest clothing with designs beyond their understanding and messages being given beyond their maturity to understand. All this beauty, worldly beauty is fleeting.

What I know about my wife is that she is beautiful through and through. Yes, she has physical beauty, uses make-up, likes to take her time getting ready for a date or night out, dresses nicely, and all this matters to her. But the message being sent by her beauty is far more than just that. in regards to this I’m reminded of 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV)

3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

  • Beauty is in the way one carries themselves. Calm in unpleasant circumstances. Secure enough to make a right – but unpopular decision, able to live by faith, seeing an uncertain path, but willing to accept what God has before them.
  • Beauty is a tempered response, being a peacemaker.
  • Beauty is looking past others flaws, imperfections and even insults, and yet gently reminding them through her own actions and words that love and grace covers many sins.
  • Beauty is also playing taxi-driver for children and their friends, putting the last $5.00 in the gas tank to accommodate a child at the expense of not being able to get that latte you have been dreaming about for a week.
  • Beauty is being satisfied in the circumstances in which God has placed us. Hoping and praying for more, but being satisfied with what is.
  • Beauty is making s’mores for the kids all night, only to discover that after you have made all of their, that you are out of chocolate!
  • Beauty is going to the store late in the evening to buy some chocolate chips to make cookies for the kids that are leaving the country on a week-long mission trip – so they have just a little pice of home and love to take with them to warm their hearts.

Be Open.

If you are not looking to find the beauty in all people and circumstances, you’ll find none. At least none for yourself, and certainly not any that will provide a source of hope, love, power and security in your life. Be looking for beauty. Don’t just be Mixed 015looking for beauty in the the places where the world will see beauty. Be looking for beauty in the ugly things as well – as there is always an opoertunity for the Holy Spirit to work there as well., Be looking for beauty in the simple and mundane things as well, as there is always opportunity grow ourselves, or to uplift and support those who might need it.

I Peter 3:3 mentioned above is followed by this statement in verse 4:

“rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

Beauty is more than just an 11 point word in Scrabble. Beauty is a gift not only to those who produced it, but to those who see it. Beauty is more than just how my wife looks, and she looks good; true beauty is only seen through the eyes of Christ, a gift that is given to us by the Holy Spirit. Be open to see beauty in unexpected places. I’m grateful to have it, and everything in my life is better for it.

 

I am a Mucked-Out Stall

stall_cleaningFarm life, even life on a small farm inhabited with more chickens then any other livestock, cause a man to ponder things from strange or uncommon points of view sometimes. For some reason last evening, just tucked in beside my awesome wife, this thought cam to me. My life is like a mucked out stall.

Raising goats, cows, horses, nearly any farm animal, is going to require sheltering the animals from the weather. For this reason we build barns. Because not all animals are alike, and even those that are do not always get along (something like people), we make stalls. Standing in stalls, a part of life for a farm animal, means that the stalls get dirty. Yes, the animals go to the bathroom in the stalls. The stalls get dirty, and if the animals are to have a healthy life, these stalls need to be cleaned. In farm terms, cleaning out these areas is called, “mucking the stalls”.  In this, believe it or not, I found a parallel for the life of a Christian.

When we are born into this world, we are dirty, we are sinners. Sin is born into us as we inherit it as if it were “DNA” from out forefathers, passed on in perpetuity from Adam to us (Romans 5:12, I Corinthians 15, I Timothy 2). Because of that, it is appointed that each man must die, so that the sin that is in us (our ‘sin nature’, or our ‘flesh’), and our spirit, free from sin, may be made right with God. Then, like the cow in the stable who realizes he’s standing in his own filth going nowhere, we realize that we cannot live healthy life with any hope for the future if we continue life at the status quo. We need a cleaning.

God is often referred to as a farmer; vinedresser, a pruner, He harvests, plants seeds, waters – all references to farming, and honorable profession if there ever was one. But for the farmer to be successful, he has to do more then just throw seeds onto barren ground, and then come back a few months later for the harvest. Vinedressing and pruning is hard work, typically in the hot sun, requiring lots of manual labor all done closely and by hand. It requires a knowledge that would be particular to the farmer, and an understanding of the future. Perhaps most of all, the farmer understands that some things must be cut off and thrown away, burned even, and that because for this, the harvest will be greater.

The farmer also knows that animals left to stand in their own filth will not grow. They will stifle, become despondent, even angry. The farmer knows that if that animal is going to flourish towards the purpose for which it is born, it must be clean.

Jesus is the mucker of our souls. He’s the one that has to do the dirty work. He’s the one that cleans the stalls of our lives so that we can flourish towards our created and intended purpose – to be reunited in spirit with God the Father, cleansed of our sin, not found standing in our own filth.

I’m so glad that Jesus has ‘mucked out’ the stall the stall of my heart. I’m glad I do not have to ever worry about standing in the filth of my own sin. I’m glad that my past, that past that stinks and all the sin within it, is gone, forgiven cleansed – never again to rear its ugly head. Few things are more beautiful to a farmer then a barn, all the stalls spotless. Jesus has done the workd, now we must be diligent in the upkeep of our stalls/tents while we remain here.

Wierd, yeah. But hey, if that’s what the Lord puts on your heart, you go with it!