life, My Faith

Beauty in the Broken

I had the opportunity to have a couple of days off, which were amazing. I spent yesterday with my nieces, which was fabulous. It’s been a long time since we were able to just spend time without it being a socially distant activity. There’s something amazing about an almost 5 year old snuggling in on the hammock and looking up and saying “I love you so much, Auntie.” It makes all the things okay.

Today after I dropped them off, I had a long “to do” list.  But I started by going somewhere with my Bible. I wanted to go to my favorite place, but it was unfortunately still closed.  #Coronaproblems. I went down by the river, which is a great place too.

I started a new study today as well.  I just finished the “Get Out of Your Head” study by Jennie Allen.  (Highly recommend. The book itself is excellent as well, but you can get things out of the study without having read the book.  It’s a study in Philippians.)  

Anyway, the study I started today is from IF called Reflections of God: The Theology of Beauty.  I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into it, but I’m trying to be more intentional about my time and the IF shoppe was having a sale, so I decided to try some.  Honestly, this is just one I grabbed because the sale was for 5. But something about it, I decided to pick it up today. I’m so glad I did.

In this world that is so topsy turvy right now, there was a lot to be found in this study.  Today it focused on the verse in I Corinthians 13:12. In the King James it says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.”

The thing I didn’t know is back then mirrors were only polished metal and only the rich had them.  They didn’t reflect the best; (it makes me think of maybe prison mirrors you see on TV.) Regular people didn’t have mirrors and only caught their reflection in water or other reflective things, but no matter the source of the reflection, they never saw a true reflection of themselves.  

The world is kind of like that.  Originally in Genesis, God created it in all it’s perfection, but because sin entered the world, it tainted what God created and humanity was no longer able to have perfect fellowship with God.  “The world is..a distorted version of paradise. And we, as citizens of both heaven and earth, struggle to keep a clear picture of what God intended, confused by the brokenness around us and our own distracted lives….  Something beautiful has been vandalized.”

As I thought through this a little, I realize that this may hold the key to one of the things that I have struggled to comprehend.  The world is broken. It doesn’t work the way God intended originally. Because sin entered the world, everything that happens here isn’t good and perfect.  

Someone else got involved and messed up perfection.  That someone, Satan, likes to grab hold of these flaws, that are there because of sin, and magnify them and use them to prove to us that we can’t trust God.  That even though He can do everything, He’s not always going to. Satan puts doubts in our minds about the goodness of God. He makes us question whether or not God even likes us.  And he reassures us that He, in fact, probably does not.

And we fall for it.  It fits with our narrative of what we see around us sometimes.  When we focus on the negative, the parts that don’t fit into what feels good, and we agree that it must mean God isn’t good.  If we don’t believe in the goodness of God, then the enemy has won the biggest part of the battle. If God isn’t good, why would we trust Him?

But what I’ve learned over and over in the last several years is this:  God’s goodness is NOT based on my circumstances. It’s on canvas in my bathroom next to my mirror.  Because sometimes my circumstances just plain stink. Sometimes I’m not satisfied with what is happening and my natural inclination is to question why this happens.  And if I haven’t done anything wrong, it must be because God doesn’t like me, right? What other reason could there be? And in that mindset, the enemy has the upper hand.

So, it’s time to switch the narrative.  Bad things happen. My dad died when I was little, not because God didn’t like me, not because I did something wrong, but because I live in a fallen world and bad things happen here, awful things, tragic things, terrible things.  Maybe there is no cause.  

I kind of explored this the other day on instagram.  I think it’s not a coincidence that this theme keeps popping up.  Because my good God in his wisdom keeps driving the point home until I stop doubting it.  Until the truth is louder than the lies.

I was looking at Romans 8:28 that day, and this is what I said:

What if instead of looking for the cause, we look to the effect?  What if we look at what came after? Ok, bad things happen and we would prefer they hadn’t. But they did.  So now what?

Maybe instead of looking so much at the past, we need to look at the future. How can God work in this not so great situation?  What do I do with it now that it’s happened? How do I act? How do I react? How does He act in me?

His ways are not my ways so maybe it’s not for me to try to figure out why He didn’t prevent the bad. Maybe it’s for me to walk daily trusting that He will work in the bad to change me.

This verse doesn’t say “All things are good” even though I do very much wish it did. But that would be a different gospel message. It says “all things work FOR good”. It doesn’t say how. It doesn’t say when. But I can trust whatever is happening or has happened in my life can be used for God’s greater purpose.

And in that place, I can leave the causes and the whys to the One who knows far more than me and just focus on the what now. Maybe that’s where the peace lies.

So here in this fallen world, especially right now, it’s easy to look at the lies, the chaos, the sickness and death, the many things we wish were different.  It’s easy to ruminate on the bad and forget all the lovely things. It’s easy to allow the enemy to steal the narrative. After all, the Bible says the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  He comes to steal our joy, kill our dreams and destroy our love of our Creator and our appreciation of the beauty of our lives in the midst of the hard.

Commit with me to take back the power.  Commit with me to not let the enemy win this time.  To do that we have to intentionally focus on the beauty around us and remember that our good God is fighting for us.  It may not always look like we want, but the battlefield is not always a predictable place; it’s not a place where perfect things happen.  But there is hope now in the one who is fighting for us and there is hope in the future for the perfection to be restored.

“By learning to recognize the beauty around us, we can better see God’s reflection in everyday life. We remember that this world, while broken, will be made new and perfect once again.” Let’s grab onto that truth and focus on the beauty in the broken.

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