Outside my window the late summer sun filters down through a canopy of oak and cedar. The oppressive heat of August has shoved its way into September. It leaches the moisture of yesterday’s rain out of every blade of grass as it covers Texas like a weighted blanket.
And yet, the way it turns the edges of every leaf and petal to gold is breathtakingly beautiful.
As the specters of two towers rise from the backdrop of deplorable current events, our hearts fracture under the weight of anamnesis. Our minds struggle to comprehend how audacious beauty can exist alongside such horrors.
Martha of Bethany had witnessed the healing power of Jesus. When her beloved brother became ill she sent word to Jesus; fully expecting Him to come and heal Lazarus. Imagine the confusion and pain that enveloped her as days went by and Jesus did not return. Finally, He arrives. Four days after her brother dies. Still, Martha’s faith is real. She believes in Jesus’ power to heal. Even, maybe the power for more than just healing.
“Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.””
Jesus assures her that her brother will rise again. Martha believes Him, “Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.””
But the current pain of loss for Mary and Martha is real. It was devastating. Their hope in the future didn’t negate the grief they were feeling. They want their brother now.
What Jesus says next changes everything for Martha and it changes everything for you and I as well.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.””
This truth is the precept that allows beauty and horror to coexist in this world. It allows us to feel joy in the midst of pain. Gladness for mourning and hope for despair.
Jesus was telling Martha, I am the resurrection and the life – NOW! In this moment. You don’t have to wait for the last day. Just as Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead – He takes us from death to Life. In a moment.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
When we live in the light of this Truth, everything changes.
- We have His spirit inside of us, to guide and teach us the things of God. (1 Cor 3:16; 1 Cor 2:12)
- We have His strength to face all fears and trials. (Isa 41:10; Phil 4:13)
- We have His faithfulness; to keep His promises of His love and His mercy toward us. (Lam 3:22-23; Num 23:19)
- We have His peace. (Isa 26:3; 1 Pet 5:7; John 14:27)
- We have His provision, His promise to provide for our every need. (Rom 8:32; Phil 4:19)
- We have His help against temptation. (Heb 2:18; Psa 119:9, 11)
All this we have, in abundance, the moment we place our faith in Him.
The greatest of these blessings is the Holy Spirit within us. His spirit allows us not only to respond and recognize beauty, but to participate with Him in the creation of beautiful things.
Every act of beauty snips away at the web of deception the enemy has cast over this world. Like a candle piercing the darkness, the light of beauty dispels and transforms the shadows.
Like love, beauty is an act of rebellion against the enemy.
It is a valuable weapon in our arsenal against death and destruction.
We wield it by grace through the power of the Spirit. Believing by faith that wherever it goes it will reflect facets of His glory, and rain down hope on a lost and dying world.