Why We Long to Be Beautiful (or Handsome)

images  I love the springtime. Spring is the season for new life, and new life always brings hope. Spring bursts forth with a symphony of color and fragrance that declares our God is a lover and creator of beauty. I sometimes wonder at the artistry of such a fallen world and how heaven could compare. I’m sure there are no words adequate to describe. Have you ever wondered why He made so many different kinds of flowers? Or birds? Or creatures under the sea? Or the purpose of the loveliness of a sunset? The Bible says the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, and I believe springtime is one way He shows off His glory!

We were created with a desire for beauty…but why? Because God is beautiful and He makes all things beautiful in their time. Beauty inspires awe and a sense of well being. Somehow it makes it seem as though all is right in the world. The absence of it causes life to appear bleak, drab, and hopeless. Can you imagine what the world would be like if God made everything black and white? Loveliness provokes creativity, life, and joy. One of my favorite Scripture passages is Song of Songs 2:10-13, My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Whenever I feel down, this passage always lifts my spirit. 

Not only do we have a desire for beauty, but also a deep longing to be beautiful. Our society takes advantage of this innate need. Hundreds of ads and commercials deceptively promise to make us more beautiful, or our homes, cars, wardrobes, etc., more desirable if only we buy their products. Of course, our enemy plays on it as well by influencing us to endlessly compare ourselves with others, or alter our appearance through harmful diet fads, plastic surgery, excessive exercise, etc. But these things will never satisfy this longing.

Mike Bickle, in his book, The Seven Longings of the Human Heart, writes, “What does a longing actually mean? Few words in the English language capture such depth of emotion in two short syllables. A longing is not a superficial want that might be satisfied by a simple act of kindness. A longing is not even a genuine need for which we can demand satisfaction. Longing goes deeper than that. A longing is an ache of the heart. It is a cavity of the human spirit crying to be filled. In its deepest sense it is neither a true verb nor a true noun, but combines the two, spanning the gap between emotion and genuine need. It is an intangible feeling that ebbs and flows, yet it is a concrete reality. It cannot be reasoned with, negated or dismissed. One way or another, whether legitimately or illegitimately, a human longing will be filled. It must be.” 

God created this longing within us to draw us to Himself, the beautiful God, the Lover of our soul who aches to fill it. The beauty of springtime, and the world around us serves not only to show forth His glory, but to woo us, to romance us as His beloved bride. He sees everyone of us as beautiful, for He made us. Even more amazing, He thinks we’re beautiful with all of our faults, flaws, and shortcomings! Ponder that for a while. No matter what others may think or say, how you think you compare to your friends, or even what you see when you look in the mirror, there is One who is beaming with joy and delight when He looks at you. Even now He is saying to you, My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show Me your face, let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”  (SOS 2:14)

 

 

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Let Go and Live

letting go2My husband loves to watch the TV show, American Pickers.  It’s funny to me because when we first married, he hated antiques while I loved to contemplate their untold secrets. Yesterday, Mike and Frank, the two pickers, went to visit a pastor who they were told, had some old things he was ready to part with. After asking about the price of several items, it became obvious he wasn’t quite so ready to let them go. His line got my interest as I was half paying attention. “It seems I have a hard time letting things go,” he said, and my ears immediately perked up. Sounds like a lot of folks I know, myself included.

It may not be antiques or belongings we have trouble letting go of. More often, its those deeply personal things like relationships, unrealized hopes, shattered dreams… Sometimes it seems as though the reality of day to day living versus that which we’ve hoped and longed for is a deep, dark abyss that can’t be bridged. Thus far in my years of living, I’ve not yet met a person who had every hope, dream, or desire fulfilled, or one whose life turned out exactly as they had planned.

I’m finding that the older I get, the heavier those unfulfilled longings become and the more energy it takes to continue to hold on to them. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, why are we afraid to let them go? What is the worst that could possibly happen after all? We would be lighter, have more energy for each day, and look forward to new and better things that await us. Maybe our fear is looking like or acknowledging that we failed in some ways. Well, I’m pretty certain we ALL have fallen short in many ways we may or may not recognize or acknowledge. Failure only occurs when you quit. Making mistakes is how we learn.

As Graham Cooke would say, we need to get over ourselves and get on with the business of living. Living in the past is futile, so let go of what weighs you down and look up with new eyes and new hope to the One who makes all things new. Grieve the loss if you need to, and move on towards new life. This world and all that is in it is quickly passing away. Only Jesus can give us a life of true satisfaction and the fulfillment of every longing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Faith of Abraham

“…Abraham is our father in God’s sight because he trusted God as the one Abrahams faithwho gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence. For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.” His trust did not waver when he considered his own body–which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–or when he considered that Sarah’s womb was dead too. He did not by lack of trust decide against God’s promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God, for he was fully convinced that what God had promised He could also accomplish.” – Romans 4:17-21

If God sees and considers Abraham as my father, then it seems He would expect me to be like him. A child usually takes on the characteristics of their parents; therefore, it seems God would want me to have the same trust in Him as Abraham did. Since Abraham believed God gives life to the dead–which was his body–and calls nonexistent things into existence–which would have been his seed–then I need to believe the same things. I know He gives life to the dead because He raised Jesus from the dead. He calls nonexistent things into existence because His Word has creative power. He spoke the universe and all creation into being.

But how did Abraham know God gives life to the dead? Had he actually seen or experienced that when he decided to believe Him? How did he know He calls nonexistent things into existence? The Scriptures had not yet been written. In reading over his story in Genesis 15, we can see that he had some powerful encounters with God. Obviously, he believed God because of his relationship with Him. He had come to know and trust Him. However, he was still human. Later, he made the mistake of sleeping with Hagar, so even in trusting God, he didn’t fully understand His ways. I take comfort in knowing that God redeemed Abraham’s mistake as he was trusting Him to the best of his ability and understanding. So surely He will redeem my mistakes, because I trust Him and want to obey Him in all I say and do.

Though Abraham was past having any hope in the natural of his promise coming to pass, yet he chose to trust with hope that indeed it would. Hope and trust are choices we have to make regardless of our circumstances. In fact, if our circumstances seem favorable to our promises coming to pass, it doesn’t require us to have hope and trust. Perhaps we would trust in our circumstances rather than in God. We are called to walk in faith. To walk by faith and not by sight is something we must choose to do, for it goes against our natural tendencies.

Abraham did not deny the fact that because of their age and the condition of their bodies it was impossible, in the natural, to have a child. He took that fact fully into account. Yet his trust did not waver because of the facts. I love it though, that in this passage, God never mentions that Abraham did try to help Him out, and in the process created Ishmael. It is as though God totally forgot or chose to overlook that. God knows the heart, so I believe Abraham must have thought he was doing the right thing when he did that. Still, God credits Abraham as righteous in His sight. He is amazing!

Abraham could have looked at the reality of his situation and decided it was too difficult for God to make good on His promise, but he didn’t. As he chose to trust God in spite of the facts, and worshiped God in the midst of what looked like an impossible situation, God empowered him to believe and stand firm in his faith. When we do likewise, He will do the same for us! God cannot lie, so He will eventually make good on His promises. The question we often struggle with is, when?  Abraham waited about 25 years for his promise to be fulfilled. Obviously, God requires not only faith in Him and His Word, but also patience!