Is there beauty in imperfection? Wendy reminds us that Jesus reaches out to broken people, and that He makes perfect beauty out of dust- us.
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Recently, while a receptionist I’d been talking to finished processing my payment, I glanced around her waiting room that was tastefully decorated in soft colors. My eyes rested on a painting of a cottage surrounded by flowers. Crooked stone steps led up to a crooked door that had crooked windows on either side of it. Despite the imperfections, the picture was perfect in beauty.
The funny thing is, the artwork hanging on the wall of this secular institution spoke more to me than a prestigious painting I’d noticed earlier in the foyer of a church. This portrait of a humble home spoke unconditional love to me.
The large and lavishly framed masterpiece I noticed in the religious building blended in perfectly with the surrounding décor, and frankly, it intimidated me. It reminded me of how I feel around people who appear to have it all together. Perfect wardrobe. Perfect car. Perfect house. Perfect kids. And Perfect marriage.
Flawlessness Doesn’t Equal Beauty
I preferred the flawed art. The down to earth—down to my level—art. It was a “Welcome to my home, forgive the dust and dirty dishes on the counter because I’m so glad you’re here,” piece of art.
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And then I got to thinking about my less than perfect life and my less than perfect body. They don’t have to be flawless, either, to be beautiful. My days and my face are framed with the grace of God because I invite Him, daily, into my life. He’s writing a beautiful story on my heart. A story of transformation from death to life. A story from broken by sin to bold in Him.
Jesus Loves Broken People
The Bible says Jesus wasn’t a ten out of ten looking kind of guy. He was a plain James. But people by the crowds were drawn to Him. Some were drawn because of envy; most seemed to be attracted by His loving compassion. Others were attracted by His ability to heal them and create beauty from their ashes.
Through all the demands placed on Jesus, He remained approachable. He wasn’t a haughty religious guru who expected the best seat in the house. He wasn’t a prideful master of ceremony who only hung out with the elite and refused to mingle with minions.
In fact, most of Jesus’ miraculous interactions were a result of messy interruptions. His gracious reaction to the interruptions of needy folk fills up a good portion of the four Gospels.
Pause for a moment and let that sink in.
Jesus loved the needy and imperfect people. He didn’t wave them off and point to a program. He didn’t nod His head, look at His watch, and promise to pray for them in His quiet time. He gave them His time. On. The. Spot.
Too often we’re the prestigious painting that’s all dolled up with no intentions of going anywhere near the broken people. And often, when we’re the broken people, we wear a religious mask of having it all together. We don’t throw out a welcome mat to the Holy Spirit, or to others. We try to heal ourselves and fail at it while robbing sisters and brothers the chance to be facilitators of our healing.
I’ve noticed that the good works God has given me to do are often not the ones I’d planned to do, they’re the unexpected calls to action.
Religious people stick rigidly to an agenda while spiritually-minded people watch and wait for opportunities to serve the ones God brings across their path. To be Kingdom workers we need to remember that opportunities to serve are often disguised as unglamorous interruptions.
We would do well to remember there’s beauty in brokenness too. The Bible says God doesn’t despise a humble and contrite heart. He’s more interested in how we love those around us than in how much we put in the offering plate each Sunday. Sure the church can buy a bigger painting to hang in the foyer if I give more.
God Makes Perfect Beauty Out Of Dust
But there’s a more beautiful picture that needs to be evident in the lives of Jesus’ followers. It’s the portrait of a loving Savior hanging on a cross and bleeding cleansing blood over the sinners who’ve knelt at the foot of it. The pool of crimson love on Calvary’s doorstep is the welcome mat of all welcome mats to each and every repentant soul that embraces it. The thieves, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes are still—to this day—getting in ahead of the pride-filled, works-oriented, and beautiful on the outside folk.
The ugly ducklings are getting in first because God makes perfect beauty out of dust—us.
So, as I face some disappointments and interruptions in my life, I’m reminded that God is able to use the crooked window I’m looking out of to create a beautiful masterpiece He has planned for eternity. And some of the blessed crookedness in our portrait are the unexpected things. For paintings, like us, need the darker shades and shadows to offset the lovely highlights of Heaven’s glow.
I’d like to close with verse one and three from Isaiah 63.
The Spirit of the LORD is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the
and provide for those who grieve in
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
Images courtesy of:
Don Salmans – Jesus Is Coming
Dr. John B. MacDonald – Introducing Living Theology
Dr. John Marriot – Stranded in Babylon
FBH International – Debbie Hughes – Missionary to Ecuador