Friday, January 18, 2019

The making of a Royal Beauty

Now and again, mom begins a discussion by saying she doesn't know what she has done in this lifetime to 'deserve' all the pain she experiences because of her arthritis, stenosis, and neuropathy. Any one of those can be quite debilitating - add all three together and you rarely have a day when one or the other isn't a troubling thing. Add to this that she is legally blind, hard of hearing, and 100 years old, and you can see why she might just 'bemoan' some of these ailments once in a while! While we may not understand the 'why' behind the present set of worries and woes that we experience, we can be assured of one very important fact - the day is coming when we will live healed and whole once again if our hearts are surrendered to Christ!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. (I Peter 1:3-7 MSG)

It is our faith that is proven in the fires of all these present trials we may endure, my friends. We might not fully appreciate that as we are going through those trials, but the purest of gold isn't just 'found' somewhere along the way - it is exposed and rises to the top in the fire. I get it - fire isn't comfortable, nor is it desirable when the exposure has been long. I also have had many a conversation with God about 'why' some things had to go the way they did in my life and have come to the conclusion on more than one occasion that there really was no other way to 'prove' the 'metal' of character any other way. The fire was the turning point for something within me - it brought out some things I may not have realized needed to rise to the surface so they could be 'taken out' of my life, as well as exposing some things that needed to be realized for the beauty that was really there.

Healed and whole is a good goal, but if we live with the expectation of seeing that in totality while here on earth, we have unrealistic expectations set in our minds. We aren't going to beat disease 100% of the time - colds will happen, flu will knock us down a notch or two on occasion, and even bones will become brittle and less 'movable' over time. Parts wear out! We aren't going to avoid all calamity in life - storms will tear away roofing, waters will invade spaces where pipes didn't hold secure, and cars will get dings. We don't control the weather, nor can we observe pipework hidden behind drywall or buried beneath the earth. These things are not always in our direct control - so we will have to face them when they arise. We aren't going to be able to keep out all manner of temptation - media will bombard us in every direction, opportunities will present themselves, and desires will still mount an attack within us. We are human!

The very best news I can share with you is that Jesus isn't going to abandon us in the midst of the disease, calamitous event, or incessant temptation. He is going to be there in the midst of the 'fire', not because he wants to see us 'burn', but because he wants to show us how much beauty is being exposed in the midst of it. He doesn't allow the fire to punish us - he allows it to purify us. At first, this seems kind of cruel, but when we stop to consider the beauty produced because of the fire, we might just reconsider the value of it. Yes, we can get excited about the time when we will be whole and healed. Yes, it is something assured to each of us. Yes, the time will come when all these present worries just slip away. In the meantime, there might just be a little refining going on behind the scenes in our lives that is producing within us a thing of 'royal beauty' that compares to no other. Just sayin!

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