Tuesday, 12 March 2013

known intimately and found beautiful

...thoughts from a walk I took this time last year.

It is a profound thing to be known - deeply known.  It can also be incredibly risky.  For to be known, we must be vulnerable.  We must risk being misunderstood or mistreated.  We must be willing to take a chance that our openness and honesty may not be reciprocated. 

Being known by God might feel just as risky to some of us.  And whether or not we are comfortable with the idea, we ARE intimately known by Him

David marvelled at God's intimate knowledge of him in Psalms 129:13-16 
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

When Jeremiah was a young boy, God told him: 
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: a prophet to the nations -- that’s what I had in mind for you.”  [Jeremiah 1:5 The Message Bible]
God says the same to us.  He sees us, regards us, and treasures us. He knows our name -- not just the name we answer to -- but our truest identity. If only we could know ourselves as he does.  What a gift it would be to see ourselves through his gracious eyes and realize the beauty of his design in us. 

Yesterday, a warm sun began thawing the heavy cloak of snow that has covered everything for weeks. I grabbed my camera and headed out for a walk.  I am always amazed at  the vast beauty of a winter landscape, but today I had eyes for something else.  I was watching the path at my feet instead, searching for hidden beauty.  And guess what?  I found it everywhere I really looked.  Many times it meant getting down in the snow, getting low - the humble places where beauty is often missed-  focusing my lens on intricate details that only reveal themselves beneath an intentional gaze.  

I continued on to the edge of a nearby river and found an aged piece of gnarled wood laying half frozen under the ice.  It wasn't very attractive the way driftwood often is until I took a closer look.

I laid right down in the wind-crusted snow shooting images of that driftwood from every possible angle.  By the time I stood, my jeans were soaked and I was beaming. I had found the beauty I was searching for.

I had found an original masterpiece.  The patterns and designs in that lone piece of wood were mesmerizing.  I whispered my “thank you,” overwhelmed by God’s lavish creativity, how he can afford to hide such beauty in places that most of us never see.

And then I thought about how he stops and notices me. And you. He sees the intricate designs that he took pleasure in creating.  He notices and smiles at our unique beauty.  God sees those parts of us that look gnarled and weathered and he doesn't cringe or turn his face.  Instead, he seeks out those places in us, knowing he has created - and is still creating - something beautiful. We may feel stuck on the edge of things, cast aside and half-buried, but he takes special notice.

I see that old piece of wood as a symbol of our lives, but with an important distinction.  We need not be dead.  In God, we have the opportunity to be fully alive, “abiding in the vine,” grafted into the main branch that is Christ, the life-giver. In Him, we are never just dead wood, cast aside.  Although there are places in all of our lives that seem pointless, purposeless, and maybe even dead, God knows better. We may feel like there are parts of us where beauty seems completely absent, but God looks at us differently. The maker of all things beautiful sees our truest selves, and through his creative artistry finds a way to take even the worn out, broken places of our lives and make them beautiful once again.  

Unless otherwise cited, words and images copyright © melody armstrong 2013

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