Chaos screams everywhere. It’s all around, pushing its way into our lives with its resulting pain, sadness and disappointment. Our loved ones are getting sick, or dying. Things are not going in the way we think they should, and we are tired of waiting. And we feel lesser, as if we’re not enough, as if we can never be enough, or quite get to the place we hoped we’d get to some day. Some days it’s one big swirl as the whirlwind screeches through our day and demolishes everything in its path, and we’re left battered and shaken. Another day.
But we rarely take time to think about what lies beneath the chaos.
It was one of the first frosts of winter today and I was struck by the patterns in nature, patterns which are at once breathtakingly random and beautiful in a more linear way, the rules of mathematics underlying the universe evident in a tiny snowflake or frost on a window.
I can only gaze in wonder at the detail and stand in awe at the creativity. This depth of beauty is so easily overlooked, so easily discounted as just another bit of cold stuff, yet reflected in it are an artist’s brushstrokes, lovingly painted and crafted. In the chaos of a snowstorm, or the frozenness of a winter morning, we can see something underneath – something that points to who we really are and what we are able to get hold of in our own difficulties.
The craftsmanship evident in nature is written across each one of us. I’ve been thinking about how so many of us are beaten down by what others say about us, through our childhoods and beyond, and how because of this we are unable to see any beauty in us, or find stillness when our lives are full of noise. We’re unable to see our lives as anything other than random messes, and far from ‘God’s workmanship’ (Ephesians 2:9) Too much has been said to us, and too many words have taken root, shaping how we see ourselves. Instead of finely crafted flakes, we see churning, twirling sleet that too quickly turns to slush.
We don’t take time with the artistry in us.
So many of us are beaten down by what others say about us, through our childhoods and beyond, and because of this we are unable to see any beauty in us, or find stillness when our lives are full of noise.
But there’s something more powerful than the words we take in and the stuff that happens to us. There’s something more dynamic than the labels we apply to ourselves and the sense of uselessness we so often hold tight. We were always meant to live lives of freedom from oppression and to dance into the recognition of who we are when we accept the love of God in our lives – God, the creator of the cosmos in all its crazy elegance. The glorious story of the gospel doesn’t suddenly stop the suffering, but it does reveal the beauty that lies beneath. It exposes the lies we tell ourselves and others tell us, and shines blazing light on the truth of who we are and what we are.
This story was never about our own strength. Just as the patterns we see so fleetingly in nature are so delicate, so easy to break apart, the gospel narrative blows our minds with its emphasis on weak beginnings. Over the next few weeks we’ll be starting to think about Christmas (perhaps you’re there already!) and preparing, through the season of advent. My prayer for you is that in all of your weakness, in all of your sadness, in all of your pain, that you may stop for a moment and see the brushstrokes of the creator in your life – even in the swirling storm. Catch a snowflake and stay with it for a while, allowing your eyes to open wide in wonder as you get the slightest, tantalising glimpse of something more than this, of a God who designs in bursts of beauty and washes the skies in explosions of colour.
A God who works beauty into the very weakest of things, and who weaves beauty into lives of those who ask – even when those lives seem like patterns of disappointment. Hang in there, my friends, because there is more to come, and what is to come will be so overwhelming and inexpressible there will be no words left for it. It will be heavy with the intricacies of the most beautiful frosted design we can imagine and will gather up all the ugliness in our lives and break it into tiny pieces until we see nothing but astounding, inexplicable glory.
Today may you fix your eyes on the unseen, the things you sometimes forget to search for, the patterns of God’s work in your life, God’s handiwork in you. May you not lose heart in your own winter storm, but be released to discover a world of clarity and grandeur, and to be assured of the beauty written on you.
So many of us are beaten down by what others say about us, through our childhoods and beyond, and how because of this we are unable to see any beauty in us, or find stillness when our lives are full of noise. Click To Tweet May you not lose heart in your own winter storm, but be released to discover a world of clarity and grandeur, and to be assured of the beauty written on you. Click To Tweet
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18