I don't know how it is that the same place that tightens with all my fears is also the one that beats wild with joy when there's beauty all around and I'm lost in the Glory of Him. But I feel it now, just like I always do when I'm perched on the edge of something new, about to create a piece of who I am.
I've got this vision of beauty in mind and I don't know if I can take what's in my head and make it into something real. But sitting here, this wild hope coursing through, I know I've got to try.
It's days of pondering methods and materials before I find a way to bring my vision into being. I've gathered all the pieces, carried them out to a sunny spot in the yard, and I'm starting out without knowing where I'll end up.
Because I might think I know what this is all about and I might try my hardest to make something beautiful out of what I have. But I'm not the One Who spoke the world into being and I'm not the One Who takes the pieces of a life, breathes hope and light into all the broken places. I might call myself an artist, but who can really say that when the Artist behind all this beauty is standing right here, whispering His love?
It's a few hours of work, laying photographs one beside the other. I'm bent right over, kneeling on the ground, and I'm too close to see what's really happening. I see the vision in my head and it's slipping out of reach, the disappointment rushing in to take its place. My heart's weighed down because I just want to reflect the One Who's opened my eyes to all this beauty in the world.
But how will anyone see Him here when my hands are too clumsy and I haven't any skill to fashion this reflection?
I just keep pressing down the photographs, hoping He'll find a way to fill in all the emptiness. Because I've been at this too long not to know He's more than enough to make up for everything I lack. And isn't that the only way for the world to see Him here anyway? Me too small and broken, Him too beautiful and glorious not to be noticed, holding all the pieces of a life together in the most unexpected of ways?
It's later that night when I'm finally finished and I set up the boards, one beside the other. This piece of art, it's turned into ten feet of color and I sink to the floor in disbelieve. Because there it is, stretched across the couch, the vision in my head now flesh and blood. And I don't understand how He's come and held the pieces together but, oh, He has and I'm trembling at the sight.
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His beauty, it's far too great for any of us to see or know, but there's a piece of it here because all of this--it's His. He's the One Who dreamed up all these colors, carved petal shapes out of nothing. It's all His handiwork and it's all a gift.
And this is the moment I realize I've had my face buried in every one of these blooms. There are a hundred photographs right here in front of me, but these--they're only a fraction of the beauty I've captured with the click of a shutter. Thousands upon thousands. Blooms and buds and leaves. Light and beauty and God--everywhere I look.
Maybe it's only been eight months since I started counting the gifts and the graces and the moments, but I know it now that He's been pouring down on me all the years before. And maybe I didn't understand what was happening and maybe I didn't put any words to all those moments of a life, but I felt the pull of His beauty and I kept seeking it out, pressing in close, trying to memorize the joy way down deep.
Now I see that long before I ever counted a thousand ways He loves, I'd brushed against His creator heart over and over again. And I didn't know what I'd gotten myself into when I first held the camera to my face, but He knew and He opened me up and poured Himself right in--into the place where all the fear lives.
Perfect Love, it casts out fear--but maybe it's not once for all. Maybe we keep letting in Love and He keeps casting out the fear. And in the end we realize He's not going to leave us and we're never going to have to face the fear alone.
Because there's always a bigger picture than the one we can see right now. And most times we're just too close to understand what's really going on. We might see the vision of a life slipping away and we might feel weighed down by the loss of all the dreams and the plans and the hopes. But I'm certain now that if we just keep pressing on, laying down the days one beside the other, we'll discover something we didn't expect.
Him standing there, holding our pieces together, the days all joined in the most beautiful reflection of grace and glory and God.
1062. Straining to see the almost-full moon, rising behind the neighbor's tree
1063. Fingers stained with cherry juice
1064. Long, hard conversations full of pain and tears and connection
1065. Understanding a loved one's suffering
1066. Amaryllis blooms open and tall, a gift in the middle of summer
1067. Afternoon naps when days are hard
1068. Sharing a burger and fried mushrooms with a brother
1069. Movie night at home with all the right snacks
1070. Banana bread baking in the oven
1071. Summer evenings on the porch, garden wet from all the watering
1072. Face pressed into beauty a thousand times over
1073. God holding all the pieces, making this life into something beautiful