From rags to riches

Do you ever put something on, thinking it would make you look good or would be of the newer fashions available in the stores, then immediately pull it off, replace it back on the hanger and return it to the rack at the store? Your first impression was, "I have seen others wear this style and it looks so cute!" Your first impression on you: "Uh....this does not look good on me!" Maybe it is a "girl thing", but I think guys go through this frustration once in a while, too. They may just not admit it! There is one form of "attire" which will never disappoint, never look odd on us, and always flatters us! It never goes out of style. Everyone can 'wear it', but no one wears it quite the same, yet they look so very good in it. That attire is none other than the grace and peace of God. It is what scripture references when we hear about the 'garments of righteousness'.

I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.
(Isaiah 61:10-11 MSG)

We are "dressed up" in a pretty remarkable way whenever we are wearing the "suit of salvation"! Nothing is more appropriate for whatever the occasion may be, more flattering to our "frame" than even a custom tailored outfit, or produces the "wow" experience we all are hoping for. The "suit of salvation" is not hand-made, but it is 'custom tailored' in a sense. We can try to "cover up" our "frame" in many different ways, but only one thing truly covers us - the blood of Jesus. Think of the wedding - bridegroom all decked out in the tux. Pants with a razor sharp crease, collar and cuffs starched, shoes gleaming with a fresh coat of polish, and the tails flowing gently down the back. He cuts a right fine image, does he not? No flaw is seen at that moment - only the beauty of his frame awaiting his bride. 

The bride - all adorned in bejeweled gown, lotions and potions applied, with the freshest of scents, hair all adorned by the veil, topped by the tiny tiara twinkling in the light. She also captures the attention of those who behold her beauty - no flaw is apparent - all they see is her radiance and his anticipation. As she approaches the altar, her beauty seems to radiate even more. The groom's appreciation of his bride seems to be set on his face and glimmering in his eyes. The crowd is set at awe in that one moment that expresses the beginning of a bond that will not be broken. The garments do much for those who wear them, don't they? They aren't creating the moment, but they sure lend to it!

Outfitted in a robe of righteousness - even in the more intimate times when we can really "let our hair down", so to speak - God outfits us with righteousness! We don't wear our housecoats or bathrobes out into public, but tend to wear them around the house - where we are who we are - getting really comfortable and relaxed. Even in these times of "relaxed intimacy" of being our true selves, we are outfitted in something far better than we could ever imagine - right standing with our Savior. It is amazing, isn't it? God takes care of our "covering" both for public view and for his private enjoyment! Even in the quiet of our home, God adorns us with grace beyond measure, peace without limits, and joy unspeakable.

As our passage points out, even the earth is adorned in beauty - even this earth presents an image of the righteousness of God. I marvel whenever I see the Arizona cacti in full bloom and the desert floor radiant with all manner of wild flowers. Have you ever wondered how something so beautiful can come out of something so dry, prickly, and ugly. The surface looks like nothing good could come forth - then as the desert floor begins to come alive, the blooms surface, adorning what looked so "unfruitful" with tremendous beauty and glory. The barrel cactus wears a crown of flowers. The saguaro wears many little crowns. The ocotillo blooms brightly with rich red flames at its tips. Even the floor of the desert is alive with orange poppies, pink desert peony, fuscia trailing windmills, and the rich redness of the firecracker bush. God leaves his mark even in nature. He adorns and brings beauty out of what is the hardest, driest, prickliest, and sometimes the ugliest stuff within us, doesn't he? Where you see no sign of beauty, just wait. God is at work! He is going to bring forth that beauty in ways you never thought possible! Just sayin!

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