“After worrying and praying and begging God to just tell me what was going to happen, the why of it all,” Candy said as she told her story. “But then I realized that I didn’t need to know the “why”, and I didn’t need to see what would happen in the future to be okay with where God had me then. It was okay that I didn’t know.”
About two or three years ago, when I still went to youth group, the youth pastor’s wife gave her story and used this as the crux of her experience with God. She didn’t need to know the “why”, she didn’t need to see the results of anything in order to follow God in the way He was leading her in that moment.
For the last few days, since I’ve been home, I’ve been praying through everything, over everyone, about the future, about the present, about the past. I’ve been learning that prayer and that act of bringing things and people and circumstances before God almost forces you to have a right attitude about them, challenges you to become more Christ-like as you’re making your requests, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, known to God. It’s almost like bringing things before God, even when you don’t feel like He’s in control, shows that you trust Him in some way to understand the things you’re thinking, to be completely aware of the situations, intimately acquainted with and knowledgeable of the people, and involved with and invested in your heart as you come before Him with everything. I do just feel rather silly for not having connected this some time ago 😛
One of the things I’ve been learning in reading God’s word is that the Old Testament is awesome. I know that might be a ‘no duh’, but for someone who grew up terrified of reading the Old Testament because she couldn’t quite understand it, it’s a big deal. The Old Testament is full of adventure, battles, heroism, love, miracles, and, above all, God and all that He is, which makes all of these other things worthwhile and purposeful.
Currently, I’m reading through the book of Ezekiel…I’ve never read through this book before, and I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on how much of God’s character and heart is exposed here.
“And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.” (Ezekiel 16:6-7)
In this chapter God is reminding Israel of her origins, that her “father was an Amorite and [her] mother a Hittite” (v.3), referring to Abram and Sarai when God first called them in Genesis. Israel’s small beginnings are described as sad, lonely, and helpless…and then God shows up.
“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” (v.8)
I find it interesting that God’s response to Israel’s being at “the age for love” is commitment and immediate devotion to her. He takes it upon Himself to cover her with His own garment, and then, after covering her, He makes His vow to her, and enters into a covenant with her to make her His and claim her as His own. He asks for nothing from her, and requires nothing of her.
“Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.” (v.13-14)
While God is clearly speaking to Israel via the prophet Ezekiel, I can’t help but apply this to myself and to other Christians. This passage calls to mind 2 Corinthians 2:14, which says “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” Israel’s beauty was perfected through the splendor that God had bestowed upon her. Her renown went forth throughout the world because of this. Her status was from God, for God, because of God. Her sad start was forgotten and wiped clean because of His love for her, because of who He is. She stuck out, was set apart, she was different, beautiful because of God. And in this world, in our walk with Christ, we emit an aroma, “the fragrance of the knowledge” of God, that is beautiful and pleasing to God, which attracts all of the rest of the world, or makes it rear its ugly head in great offense.
Or, maybe, of course, these two are entirely unrelated and I have no idea what I’m talking about…
As a woman, it’s natural for me to want to look beautiful, to look pleasing to the eye. This is not the result of societal norms or the superficial desire to people-please. This doesn’t mean I want to walk around all dolled up every day. But it does mean that when people look at me, I want them to appreciate the beauty God has given me. But this beauty goes deeper than physical appearances and facial features. Just as Israel’s beauty was perfected and completed because of God’s splendor, bestowed upon her, my beauty is perfected and completed and purposeful because of the way He’s so wonderfully loved me and made my heart brim with His Spirit and His word and His hope and His character. The best part? This doesn’t just apply to me. It applies to every woman of God, to every girl out there looking for the heart of God.
One day during the Brock Family Reunion, a group of us went hiking up at Taughannock Falls, a tall gorge cutting through towering cliffs and forming magnificent faces out of the hewn rock. There was a point when Jake, Hannah, Nathan, their cousin Josh, and I stood atop one of those cliffs, looking over a chain link fence to the water flowing from the falls far down below. It was then that the topic of beauty came up, as it had been since the beginning of the reunion.
“Had you suggested beauty to us, we might have nodded, but not really understood. How could we have missed this? Beauty is essential to God. No—that’s not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God.” (Captivating)
What does this mean? Beauty is the essence of God? Essence is defined as “” of something.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent…” (Psalm 104:1-2)
Thinking about other passages in God’s word that describe His beauty, His magnificence, His glory, thinking about how beautiful the earth is that He created, even with it being under the infectious influence of the Fall, I wonder why it’s so different and unfamiliar for me to think of God as, well, beautiful. And yet as I do think on these things, it makes all the sense in the world to see Him that way as His beauty manifests itself in His power, His strength, His omniscience, His omnipotence, His omnipresence…every other aspect of His character.
The whole concept of having a beauty to unveil, the whole idea of being beautiful and being beautiful both physically and because of God has, through His own splendor, made me beautiful, is not new to me…but it does seem to be new to a lot of women, to women, especially Christian women, as a whole.
This is not a message of “every woman is beautiful in her own way” or “we should be empowered by our beauty,” at least not in the way you’re probably used to hearing it. It’s a message of “you are made in God’s image, and God made you beautiful, strongly beautiful, and your beauty is good and reflects His character and who He is, the side of His character He allows to be gloriously manifested in women.” Women are beautiful in all their ways because their beauty reflects the very beauty of God. Do you think…?
Wow. What a thought 🙂