How would you answer the question, “What do you consider to be “real” beauty?” A person who chooses to smile despite their weathered life? Wildflowers along an interstate? An early morning sunrise?
Nature is full of natural beauty. Lake Atitlan is regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. English writer, Aldous Huxley thought so. Located in the Guatemala Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range, it is surrounded by three non-active volcanoes.
When I jumped into that lake the summer of 1994 with a group of high school students, I wasn’t aware of its reputation. But I did notice how clear the water was, even in the depths. We had taken a much deserved break during our 13-day mission trip to Guatemala.
The setting the volcanoes provided was stunning. They appeared to guard the lake. When we see innocent beauty in our children and our grandchildren, we naturally want to guard them from the ugly aspects of our world, but we can’t. That’s the scary part.
Like it or not, God doesn’t keep us, His children, from experiencing tough lessons, trying seasons, and pain in all shapes and forms that He mysteriously allows and uses to mold us. Some people resent that. A good God wouldn’t allow “that,” they say. For some, faith tried in the fire costs too much.
If you’ve walked with God a long time, by keeping the lines of communication open, you eventually appreciate watching how He turns something ugly or painful into something beautiful. No human can take the credit for that type of transformation.
Since God has never forced Himself on anyone, doesn’t He do His most incredible work in us when we don’t fight or resist the change He wants to accomplish? Yes, it’s painful, but one day when we look back and finally learn why God did what He did, then we will see the beauty.
After the ugly horror of one of the early high school shootings in Columbine, Colorado in 1999, singer Amy Grant was asked to sing at one of the memorial services. She chose to sing “Somewhere Down The Road” written by herself and Wayne Kirkpatrick. During the service, in the chorus of the song she sang,
“Somewhere down the road there’ll be answers to the questions. Somewhere down the road though we cannot see it now. Somewhere down the road you will find mighty arms reaching for you and they will hold the answers at the end of the road.”
Thousands of years ago Isaiah wrote one of the most beautiful verses in all of scripture:
“To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness,
they will be like great oaks
that the Lord planted
for His own glory.” (61:3, NLT, emphasis mine)
Will you open your hand and let God take your painful situation and turn it from ashes to something beautiful?
Click below to watch a brief part of the Columbine memorial service:
pictures courtesy of pexels.com