The promise of beauty deceived me

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Decrepit tulips

The tulips never even opened.  Instead, they started to decay from the moment I placed them in water. The promise of their beauty on display at Target deceived me

I keep flowers all around the house.  This vase is sitting on my bathroom sink. Nearby on Mike’s sink, in contrast, sit some lovely Alstroemeria boasting in their fairness. But somehow the ugliness of the tulips speaks a louder message of truth and I am loathe to toss them.

I sense that I need to embrace the reality that these flowers represent.  This world, this Earth 1.0, IS decrepit, a crumbling place.  No amount of make-up or human enhancements can change this reality.  There IS a curse.

It’s always winter in Narnia – the power of the White Witch reigns. A fact, akin to my decaying tulips.

But just as C.S. Lewis penned, there IS a stronger Truth, an ultimate Power that is at work.  Aslan is coming and a warming, colorful spring heralds this Hope.

Resurrection Sunday, Easter, signals the same for us. A forever summer is drawing nearer. It’s different from summers we have known. Given our few senses, is it even a wonder that we CAN’T imagine a SUPERIOR-summer?

John, guided by the Spirit of God wrote in Revelation 21: 1-4: 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This renovated, remodeled, new and best of all possible Earths will be Beauty par excellence because the King of Beauty, the LORD Himself will be present with us forever to enjoy.

Since mid-February I have begun to daydream more about this promised future.  I’m beginning to look forward to it.

In the meantime, I thank God for glimpses of beauty, for tastes of goodness here on Earth 1.0. They DO cheer me and lift my spirits. No denying that.  Still, I am sobered by dying reality. A reality that hints at an everlasting Beauty but a reality that cannot hide decay.  Like make-up on a cadaver being prepared for a funeral home viewing.  I’m not fooled. No one is, if they are honest with themselves.

So, this past week, I have learned much from my aborted tulips.  By grace, because of the gift of God’s Word, I know Truth. Jesus.  Though appearing ‘ugly as sin’ because He was MADE to be sin, He was and is and will always Beautiful.

And we believers who, along with my tulips, are decaying, will one day change out our outer layer for new bodies, a final and permanent version 2.0, supernaturally perfect and perpetual.

Aren’t you glad that the best is yet to be?

 

 

 

 

 

Is some pain waking up your spirit?

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Firm roller I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for almost 3 months to help with severe pain in my left hip.  Four weeks ago, Dr Sarah suggested I use a hard, firm roller to ‘wake up my brain’, a technique designed to lessen the constant soreness in my glute.

“What do you mean, ‘wake up my brain’?” I asked Sarah.  She explained that by rolling sections of my legs, one at a time, with my full body weight pressing on this hard fat tube of cylindrical foam, those movements would send signals to the brain which would help alleviate pain in my hip! when I bend over to touch my toes or walk on the treadmill.

When one of the chiro tech gals showed me the movements, I learned what the IT Band was (“The ITB ,also called the iliotibial band or iliotibial tract, is a thick, fibrous tendon that runs along the outside of each leg “) and how working that tendon with the hard, firm roller would REALLY get my brain going and do something good.

Let me tell you what excruciating pain is like: rolling on my left outer leg with my full weight working the inflamed IT band ligament!!!!

This is supposed to help? Pain is going to stimulate my brain to send a message to my sore glute to calm down?

THAT didn’t make sense. Yet, I was committed to the healing process.  Pain is a great motivator. I also trusted Dr. Sarah.

But I have dreaded those 3-4 minutes each morning.  I know what is coming – the pain that ‘hurts like hell’!

But a month in, I am pleased to report that the pain on my IT band has subsided and I have increased the rolling time from maybe 20 seconds to 40 seconds, all without increasing the discomfort.  That means the inflammation is less.

Did you see my sentence above, ‘Pain is a great motivator’?

I see a parallel with the Covid-19 crisis.  Pain has grabbed our attention. All of us -believers, pagans and atheists alike.  When something hurts enough, we tend to reorder our priorities. Quickly.  Suddenly.

I faced such a crisis years ago in our marriage. We were approaching our 20th anniversary. (Now, we’re one week away from celebrating our 40th anniversary – Yay, God!!!) Mike told me he didn’t know if he loved me anymore.

That woke up my spirit AND my thinking for sure.  I dropped the ‘too many things’ I was doing like hot potatoes to focus on our marriage.  No praying about that.  No going through any decision analysis process. Values seismically sifted during an afternoon walk and talk.  By God’s grace and with much gladness, I can write today about that PAIN at the 20-year point of our marriage, attesting to His goodness and grace to us, a couple MORE in love with each other than we imagined standing at the altar in 1980.

I know what I'm doing, Mother! copy

Do you see what sickness, death and financial pain are accomplishing?  More people all over the world are reflecting on their mortality.  They are thinking about God, and about transcendent values. This is GOOD! If church-attenders who have long thought they were Christian turn to their Bibles to learn who the real Jesus is, that is good.  If complacent believers who function day to day like unbelievers turn back to the Lord, that is for their blessing. If those who have never considered Jesus start thinking about him, that is pure grace.

My meditations these days are not along the lines of:

  • when will this be over?
  • when will life return to normal?
  • when will we be able to travel and see our family?

I’m praying and pondering:

  • Father, may we learn your lessons for good!
  • Father, use this evil to bring many to eternal life!
  • Father, may more come to honor your name and love you through this suffering.

These sufferings are not new to humanity.  Just look in the Bible if you want clear examples.

Mike and I are journeying through the depressing book of Judges.  This year, the cycle of peace, complacency, turning to contemporary cultural idols, PAIN-producing subjugation and hardship, calling on Yahweh, rescue, thanksgiving, closeness to God ……with its numerous encores, FEEL REAL and close to home.

Here’s the most important question: Will Covid-19-produced suffering be enough this time to change our world once and for all?  That’s easy to answer – No!

Any serious Bible reader can you that.  But there is a world coming, Earth 2.0, when Jesus comes down with all the angels and those saints already with him. He has promised to redeem, restore and re-create His Bride and our Earth. And be with us forever.  So, take heart and let this pain, sovereignly planned and controlled by the one and only Living God, work its good in you. Let it awaken your spirit. Be bold. Share good news of great joy. Help whom you can. Pray and rejoice!

Rev 21:1-5

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 

 

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