It’s late October and my roses are thriving…
Amazingly, with these unusually mild autumn days, the bushes that burst forth and quickly faded in the summer sun are now blooming again with a fragrance and petals that linger longer.
What a remarkable fall this has been!
It must be the perfect combination of gentle autumn rains, sunshine, and oh so pleasant temperatures.
As I compress a few pictures and play around with the saturation, I smile:
“unedited” shows reality, true colors in natural light… but, how alluring to adjust the contrast!
Softer shades look mysterious, romantic; while full saturation makes the colors glow on my computer screen in an unnatural glory. But, I want to show you “reality”, because unedited life is beautiful,
Our eyes are limited to the human spectrum of “ROY-G-BIV” and color blind to every other letter in the alphabet in God’s spectrum, a limitless heavenly color-wheel that puts Crayola to shame.
What do I look like to Him? What if I could see as He sees?
And, I wonder, what would I look like if I “saturated” myself in HIM? (letting Him bring out the best in me, allowing my weaknesses as well as my strengths to display for all the world His power and glory made perfect)
When I pray, when I read and mediate on the scripture, when I worship, and when I stop and listen, just being still in His presence, my life takes on new shades, new hues, new colors; everything becomes clearer, brighter, hopeful, meaningful!
How often do we try to self-adjust the image of our life to make it appear more fulfilling, exciting, mysterious, bold, vivid, successful, impressive? If we were honest, we’d admit we try to impress others to alter our impression of ourselves. It’s our own insecurities that cause us to even care what our life “looks like” to others.
When the world feels flat and colorless, it is not the time to saturate our days with “more”… (more drama, more activities, business, material things, charities, relationships, to the point of drowning…) in an effort to improve the “image” (or “self-image”). That’s when we most need to come before the LORD and allow Him to make adjustments.
When we try to alter the picture ourselves without being real with Him, our lives have that “trying-to-be-perfect”, artificial, airbrushed, touched-up, flawless “twinkle-in-the-eye” look that screams “FAKE!”.
Worst of all, beside the photo-shop version of “us”, the “real” appears even more dull and flat. Instead of feeling better, it leaves us forever “less than” in comparison.
The solution is being open and vulnerable before God, exposing ourselves before His loving gaze and to basking in the light of truth.
Oh, to see ourselves through the unfiltered lens of God’s grace!
How beautiful our redeemed lives are, unedited! Oh, that we would see ourselves in a purer light, glimpse the reality of who we are and where we are in the grand story God is writing.
Somewhere between “once upon a time” and “happily ever after”… after the curse, after the fall…
This is where we live, and our eyes are opened and have become dilated, accustomed to the darkness, the fog, to the pressure and demands of this world.
In Christ we are accepted. Still, we want to know we are beautiful…
“We were beautiful”, just as we were created, before the fall, before our sin, before shame, before self-protection and fear. Our fig-leaf self-improvements, or self-illusions, have only made us superficial, ever more and more insecure, ever more discontent looking for bigger, better, sharper, brighter.
We stared at our image in the mirror so long, yet walked away not allowing the LORD to change us (James 1:23), till we no longer were able to make an accurate assessment.
Our perception of perfection was distorted to the point that we couldn’t see how “fake” we had become in our cropped and edited lives. We were oblivious that we more resembled an artificial flower and less and less the beautiful, delicate, and fragrant “us” we were created to be.
But now, Step into the light of His presence and let truth saturate.
“The things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”! (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – hymn by Helen H. Lemmel)
- Step back and look at the original, the real “YOU”, knit together by God, unique!
- Take a good look at God Himself. You were made in His image.
- Look to your Savior, Jesus the Christ, into whose image you are being conformed as the Spirit transforms you as you renew your mind.
Yes, we are frail. We are fragile!
- I think of the talented Michael Jackson: so unsettled, ever striving, obsessed with externals of appearance and acceptance, yet never satisfying his soul.
- I think of the beautiful Karen Carpenter who starved herself attempting to quiet a nagging lie, while singing “I feel on top of the world…”
- And more recently tragic, I think of Robin Williams with such an amazing ability to pretend and draw us in, make us laugh and cry, yet for complicated reasons he ended his time upon the stage too soon. His reality was too much and not enough.
All are presenting, if only attempting, a façade to the world that “all is well”.
Yet, in Christ ALL IS WELL! In Christ, we are made strong. We are made whole. We are conquerors. We are forgiven. We are secure, accepted, freed. We are sheltered, comforted, shepherded. We are called, equipped, sent out with purpose and hope. We know who we are, Whose we are, why we are here, and where we are going!
This is my prayer for you:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14-19; btw, I’m claiming v. 20-21 for you as well.)
SATURATE – “to supply or fill to the fullness” – Webster, 1828
Allow the LORD to fill you up, like a sponge, ready to be emptied to be filled up again. You don’t have to just get by, just doing the best you can in your own strength.
“How?” you ask.
- “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
- Delight in His word. (Ps. 119)
- “Be still and know that He is God.” (Ps. 46:10)
- “Seek His face continually.” (1 Chr. 16:11)
You were created and re-created in Christ for life, abundant life; for beauty that would last, for fragrance that would bless your world and especially delight your Creator.
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:1-2)
If you saturate yourself in the light of His presence, you will be fruitful, ever-green, and fully-alive in every season. (Ps. 92:14, Ps. 1:3, Rms. 8:5-11)
More Personal Thoughts:
Since reading George Muller’s narratives over the weekend, I’ve been praying “LORD, … all for Your glory.”
LORD, You are my Master (Rms 14:4; 1 Cor. 4:1-5). Less and less I care what I look like to others except for the sake of Your glory. May everything I do make YOU look good; cause You are good! I want my life to “Add to the Beauty” (-Sara Groves) and do nothing to distract or detract from Your marvelous, perfect beauty.
I’m loving Hillsong’s “Scandal of Grace“. “Oh to be like You, Give all I have just to know You…” It’s a prayer of my heart, to return to the garden, to walk with my LORD. (lines of “In the Garden” slip through my mind – a hymn by C. Austin Miles)
I am “keeping my eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), “abiding” in Him, “walking (living) as Jesus did” (1 Jn. 2:6). Following His example, and letting the Father be my image consultant. How I appear to others is no longer my concern. I have placed my reputation as well as my own esteem (no more “self-estimation” for me) in His hands.