November 2022

Beauty Realized

I was sitting on the patio and looking into the wooded area at the side of our home. The grey and brown and gold of the autumn hardwoods were complimented by the emerald of the evergreens. A pleasant and quiet beauty drifting toward the barrenness of winter. As I let my gaze penetrate the depths, there was a flash of brilliant color: bright cherry red. I leaned forward to see what lovely growth might be nestled among the trees, wondering at its appearance here in the late and chilly fall. I was astonished to realize it was a plastic bag caught up in the undergrowth and trembling in the slight breeze.

I was, at first, a bit disgusted by this insinuation of debris upon my moment of tranquil beauty and thought to myself, “How unfortunate that I was ready to embrace the beauty of its color as somehow special and unique and also belonging.” Hmph.

I sat back and pondered. Isn’t it interesting that I seem so eager for beauty and so ready to dismiss it when a subsequent reality presents itself. Does the reality of the discarded plastic bag rob me of the moment of delight and anticipation when the beauty of its color first appeared to me? Should I not at least remember that beauty was mine for a moment? And, in truth, why should the realized scene be any less beautiful to me because now I know the brilliant red is not entirely organic and indigenous to its surrounds?

I sense, now, out of the corner of my eye, a shadow of wickedness: a glimpse of the wiles of the Enemy and how he sets about to rob us of gratitude and joy. After a pleasant and engaging evening with friends, one which has been full of grace, a momentary indiscretion or thoughtless word casts a pall upon the whole event. A care-free child climbing in the old oak out back, reveling in the freedom of such labor, only to slip on the way down and skin her knees. Why is it that we are so inclined to toss away the good in an effort to forget the bad?

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23 NKJV)

 “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ….”  (1 Peter 3:21 NKJV)

Dear one, it is God’s faithfulness that saves us, not our own imaginings or careful selection of memories. We are raised up with Him and living life in Him, and He alone measures and gives value to what is good and profitable. In this first week of Advent, let us awaken to truth in Him. Let each moment be perfect in its attention and anticipation of our once and coming King.

Thank you, Father, that you receive our offerings, no matter how small. Thank you for not despising our plastic bags because You see that we have valued the color. How kind, how gracious, how good You are to us! Awaken us now to the reality of Your redemption and lead us into repentance so that with a clean conscience we may stand before You. We give You praise, and all praise is due You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Until next week, beloved, give Him your all.

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