It’s been awhile since the last time I wrote a blog. Last month was a rough month for me as my grandmother passed away at the end of June and then our dog, who we had had for 12 years, passed away less than a week later. It was definitely trying and hard as the rest of the year preceding it has been. However, that week that my grandmother died, God showed me something that I’ve been trying to hold on and manifest in my life, and that’s what I want to write about today.
Beauty. We are surrounded by beauty in so many ways every day. Whether we are looking at he multi-colored sunrises and sunsets, the mountains, the river, the living creatures that reside around us all the time (just in my back yard at any given moment I can see chickens, dogs, turtles, various birds, toads, bees, wasps, ladybugs, praying mantis, cockroaches, butterflies, spiders, and tons of other bugs), the innocence and joy of children playing, the love of a mother or father for their children, people caring for other people, you name it, there is a ton of beauty in the world. Even though it is often easy to get swept away by the dark and evil that is also prevalent, it is important to remember that beauty surrounds and pervades us as well.
The week that my grandmother died, before she died, we had gone hiking up in the mountains, and I was, as I always am, just mesmerized by the beauty that surrounded us. The trees, the plants, the rocks, the mountains, the views of it all, the sky and clouds, the stream, everything was just so calming and beautiful. God then hit me with something. The beauty that I was witnessing, was indeed beautiful, but it was also littered with death and evil. If the forest were a city, we would be walking through the streets that were littered with abandoned and fallen over buildings. There would be some big majestic towers standing tall and some cute little cottages all around, but they would all be surrounded by the fallen and burned out ruins of many others. There would be trash littering the streets, piling up against walls that we would have to climb over or step in. The inhabitants of the city, some would be carelessly enjoying life, going about their business, but many would have one eye open for danger, as they live with the constant threat that another inhabitant will relieve them of their life, home, or food. Other inhabitants would be armed with physical or biological weapons to defend themselves or attack others. In some ways the forest is really the same or worse than our inner cities, but we view it as mesmerizingly beautiful and serene.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should all run in fear of the forest, but this is what God showed me. He is a God that longs to give good gifts to His children (you and me). He longs to shower us with blessing and every wonderful, beautiful, amazing thing comes from Him. What we have on this earth, in this life, whether it be nature, or family, or charity, that we view as beautiful, and is, is but a fractured, cursed incomplete version of what God has and is for us. The beauty that is found in Him, that is Him, is absolutely incomprehensible, but He offers it for us, and we can go to Him in the darkness and ugliness of the world and find beauty.
The second thing is that, just as the forest, when examined, is really full of death and trash and fear, but we perceive it as beautiful. We can, and should, find beauty in the midst of our broken cities, families, governments, jobs, etc… We can see the forest and nature and the earth and look beyond the brokenness to see the majesty of what it is intended to be, or at least imagine it, and we can marvel at it, and soak it in, and praise God because of it. We can do the same in our daily lives. Find the beauty in the brokenness of your family. Look for the majesty of God’s creation in the hurting and frightened people on the streets. Look for God’s handiwork in the leaders of your city, state, country.
Just like nature, humanity is a broken, fractured, cursed and imperfect version of what God intended, but despite that all, God still loves us, and we are still made in His image. He has amazing gifts for us, both here and now and in Heaven.
So, I would challenge you, as I have been challenging myself, find beauty in life. Look for the good things that God is doing, even in the midst of the dark. Whether it is something you see or hear, something you experience personally or something you witness happening in the world. Look for God’s gifts. Find beauty.
— Scott Downing