Saturday, January 30, 2010

Elusive Beauty

I guess you could say that I have always been obsessed by beauty. I love to see the colors in a lily, or the dew sparkling on the fields as the sun rises in the morning. It is in every human to be drawn to what is most beautiful and pleasing in the world. We have been created this way so that we will appreciate and enjoy all the glories of what God has created.

When I search for "beauty" or "beautiful" in the Bible, I overwhelmingly find it used in reference to women. In the Old Testament, we hear of many godly women who are described as being very beautiful--Sarah, Rachel, Abigail, and Esther, just to name a few of them. Each one of these women were known for being so beautiful that heads would turn when they walked by!

So how is it that a longing for beauty--which is a God-given gift!--can be so easily turned into a tool of the devil? I have struggled with that over and over. Because one of my deepest longings has always been to be beautiful. Not just to look pretty. But to have a deep, penetrating beauty, that remains even when all the makeup is gone. The more I look, the more I realize that this is the aim of almost every single woman I know. They may search for it in different ways. But they are all seeking true beauty.

I have realized that the pursuit of beauty is not vain. What is vain is when you remove God from that search. How can you have true beauty without the Creator of everything beautiful? Think of the emptiness of that search!! Trying to fill the void with anything but the Master Creator will not satisfy. How could anything possibly create beauty, when the only Source of beauty has been removed? So this pursuit of beauty easily becomes vanity. I'll admit, I have to fight frequently against the temptation to compare myself to the women in magazines or online images. When I do, I find myself thinking with discouragement the whole time, "I'll never look like that." But I realize that those thoughts are not of God. Anything that turns your heart away from what the Lord has already told us is not God-honoring. And what does God say through Scripture? He says that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." That means that when we are critical of ourselves, we are being critical of God's perfect handiwork. Does God not know how to create better than I do?!

So what is beauty? True beauty, that is. What should we be seeking? First of all, we should be seeking Christ. Second, we should be seeking the attributes of Christ. As Peter famously says, "let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Peter 3:4).

One of my favorite passages is Psalm 45:10-11--"Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house. And the king will desire your beauty...." This psalm is a love song, somewhat in the style of the Song of Solomon. I read it as symbolizing our relationship with our Lord. So when I read those verses, I am amazed to think that God desires my beauty in the same way that a man desires his wife! To think that the almighty God of heaven is preparing me for the day when I will be able to dwell with Him as His perfect bride is a humbling thought. What joy we can have to know the King of Kings, and to be His beautiful bride!! We can leave behind all that is vain, and run towards what is beautiful!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I posted yesterday, but I have no idea where the post went. It has completely disappeared. Very odd.... I will try to re-write as well as I can.

Over the past couple of years I have done some work with Hope Extreme, a ministry I was introduced to through my best friend Amber. Hope Extreme is a ministry/tutoring center for urban kids in Houma (a city about an hour from me). Last year I went every Tuesday to tutor for a few hours. I really learned to love those kids and see how special and unique each and every one of them is. It is so special to be able to see the smiles on their faces when they walk in the door!

Last month, on December 22, one of the kids who was most special to Hope Extreme passed away suddenly. Jaquan had been a part of Hope Extreme since it's beginning. His funeral service was one of the saddest I have ever been to; yet it was filled with a heavenly joy as well. As the pastor repeatedly pointed out, Jaquan did not waste his life. He gave his heart to Christ at the age of 12, and lived every day for his Lord. He didn't die tragically, from drugs or gang fights or other from one of the other dangers to most kids who live the street life. Instead, he wanted to tell his friends about Christ. His dream was to go to other countries and tell the children there about Jesus.

Even through his death, we pray that he will continue to minister to others. We are praying that this will be a wake up call to the other Hope Extreme kids; that they will see that no one, not even a young teenager, is guaranteed even their next breath. Please join me in praying for Jaquan's family, friends, and for Hope Extreme. This is such a difficult time for everyone who knew him.
Jaquan and Amber at the Hope Extreme center

Here is what Tara, the director of Hope Extreme, said about Jaquan:
The Psalmist writes "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me..." In earthly terms our human shadows are caused by a greater light that displays but a vague glimpse of our earthly image. In this passage the psalmist is aware that the shadow of death is also caused by a greater source, the all encompassing light of God shining in such a way that we are to know that "his rod and staff will comfort us."

This past month that shadow passed over Hope Extreme. Sixteen-year-old Jaquan Veal, who had been with Hope Extreme since our beginning, pa
ssed away on December 22. About twenty kids were here at the center the night we learned of his passing; as you can imagine, life here has not been the same. We have mourned. We have doubted. We have cried. We have remembered that God is the God of second chances.

Jaquan had a heart transplant almost three years ago which at the time left him blind and partially paralyzed. God gave Jaquan his life back, his sight back, and his body back and we were so thankful. Jaquan knew that his life was but a fleeting breath and dedicated it to the God who saved him. Jaquan often said that he received two hearts...a physical one, but more importantly a spiritual one, the latter which is eternal.
Though our tragedy is great, through Jaquan's life - and through those who came closer to God as a result of his death - there is greater triumph. And that is how we chose to ring in the New Year, in God's Almighty Triumph.