What Happens in the Normal Life, If You’re Lucky, Maybe…

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“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” ―Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala captures the heart of every soul seeking something more, yearning for significance to rise from all of life’s heartache, desiring the God of the universe to show Himself strong. While living a normal life, you find yourself hard pressed on every side, cast down, even perplexed, and if you’re lucky, the glimmer of hope in the goodness of God will shine brighter than the burdens you bear. Maybe this is the trajectory most often traveled in bringing God absolute glory. Perhaps, our problems equally beckon us to either “slip by” relatively unscathed by the clamor of desire or to embrace the center of our suffering with a heart still anchored in hope, still searching for miraculous intervention in the middle of life’s searing storms.

How unfortunate it is to go through life untouched by tragedy. Not that you must intentionally familiarize yourself with trauma, but wholehearted living requires embracing both beautiful and bitter morsels of your journey. In the normal life, trouble will darken your doorstep, and how unlucky you’d be if sorrow never swept your way between stretches of deep satisfaction and great achievements. That’s right. Unlucky if you remain unchanged by the pain that daily surrounds you and implores you to purpose it. Unlucky if you haven’t a single problem or unmet need that keeps you ever seeking our Sovereign Savior, ever stretching to reach beyond your grasp.

What a terrible waste of unlimited potential to skate safely through the life experiences that change so many others at the core, to never be transformed by loss, or heartache, or practicing to delight in the minutiae of seemingly mundane events. In the normal life, distance from Eden’s untainted perfection will ravage your soul and scar you deeply. If you’re lucky, you won’t be too rushed to “keep calm and carry on” or too willing to hide your heart at the first pinprick of pain. If you’re lucky, your agony won’t be invisible. Others will see your broken places, and maybe catch a glimpse of God shining from the cracks you refuse to conceal.

In the normal life, you’ll chance upon conflict. If you’re lucky, you’ll engage in loving confrontations that bear lasting fruit of deepened friendships, and maybe you’ll grow from the thing you didn’t avoid. In the normal life, doubt will visit your toughest decisions. If you’re lucky, repentance will swiftly follow the heels of remorse, and maybe you’ll choose your regrets more wisely when chasing second chances with those you love. Cruelty and cynicism swirl all around us, mingled with joy and generosity, and if you remain unaffected by it, you’ll miss the beautiful ways you were meant to reveal God’s glory. So, this is an invitation to open your heart to the things you’d rather avoid, to embrace every part of your story, especially the seemingly nuisance interruptions, to acknowledge the pain wrought by living a few thousand years past paradise, a summons to live with your whole heart expecting to be awed by God in the intricate details of your story, a request to open your heart to both the tragic and transformative nature of a normal life.

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The Beautiful Things Project

up to you beauty

Last week I revisited an old place with a new perspective. When I visited this time last summer, all I saw was all I needed to see as I stood at the edge of the property, now overrun with tall weeds. I peered across at the dilapidated house, now crumbling even at the foundation, with missing windows, dangling doors, and a sunken ceiling. The ugliness on the outside compared very little to what ugly memories it held, so my heart was gladdened to see it decaying in the summer sun. I felt God clearly reminding me that He was doing away with old things, the old places of pain and shame in my life, and doing something new and beautiful.

This time, I took in the same scene, only the house was even more decrepit than before, the master bedroom having collapsed into the former den and only a shell of the building still there. But, even there, there in the dust, in the remaining hovel that was once a home, even there I saw beauty I’d not seen before. I saw plenty of old things, yes, but I saw new things growing all around, and that made me smile. I saw several sassafras trees and saplings and even took one home to remind me God is still doing new, beautiful things in old, ugly places. I’ll be sharing more of these beautiful things in The Beautiful Things Project, and I want YOU to join me!

Everyone has a story, and it makes all of our lives more beautiful to listen. Join me in The Beautiful Things Project where you can share YOUR beautiful things, things others may find ugly, things you once found ugly, or things re-purposed or restored. Watch the brief video below, subscribe, share, and send pictures and/or descriptions of your beautiful things. Let’s commit to seeing beauty in every single thing!

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Grace Finds Beauty in Everything