I wanted quiet and peace. I am drawn to the mountains and the woods and forests. I literally get weepy wishing I could live in a place that magnificent, my heart longs for beauty.
But oddly I am drawn to the trees that appear to be all but dead. Those barren, forlorn looking spindles of a tree. There is a beauty to them that I cannot explain. Seen from a distance they almost look like some kind of lace. They fascinate me. As do old ramshackle houses; structures seeming to defy gravity, how are they still standing? Beams fallen, walls appearing to be held together with spider webs and a prayer.
To some, both of those sights are depressing signs of decay, deterioration and rot. Something lovely disintegrating right before their eyes.
To me I see a vivid sign of what was. A tree that was vibrant green, swaying in the wind, giving sanctuary to birds in a storm. Something alive and vigorous and standing as testament to God's creative powers.
A building, not just a house, but a home. People ate and slept and dreamed in that place. They loved and hoped and laughed and mourned. They LIVED there. Now a broken down shack, home only to dust and dirt. But there is still something striking about it; that it even stands at all.
I think this gives me hope in two ways. One, that no matter what things look like, how ruined, dilapidated or failing, there is still beauty to be seen. Where there once was purpose, there still is meaning. A sign of what was and an indicator of life lived.
We may all feel at times like that crumbling shack. Broken down and derelict, useless and shabby. But God sees beauty in all of us, all the time. To Him we are still that picturesque home, a place of rest and habitation. A dwelling to be filled with Him and then used to give hope and respite to others. And the amazing thing about God, He never leaves us how He found us. He heals us and strengthens us. He rebuilds us and fills our rooms with delightful gifts. He arrays us with His exquisite glory and then opens our doors for others to enjoy. He builds us an abode not just for our good pleasure, but to be a comfort and refuge to others. He takes what the world sees as junk, better suited for the rubbish heap and turns us into a superb example of His love and redemption.
The second reason I have hope is that I know that what I see here as beautiful compares not at all to what the Lord has waiting for me in heaven. All around us here there is death and dying, perishing and deterioration. That we see beauty at all is a glorious thing. But one day there will be no death. There will be no fading of life and vigor, strength and vitality. One day all will be new and brilliant, dazzling in His presence. He said in John 14:3 that He is going to prepare a place for us. He is the God of good and perfect gifts. In heaven there is no longer death and tears. So what will that look like? I can only imagine. What I see here as beautiful will only pale in comparison to what He has made ready there. Just think of it. Everything perfect. Everything complete. Everything whole and beyond compare. It boggles the mind to think of it. But we are to think of it, and to let it give us hope. Hope on those days were all we see is the darkness, the destruction, the crumbling away of all we love. We are to hold on to that hope, that God is real. That He loves us. That He is never going to leave us. And that what He has waiting for us is more splendid that we can even dream.
Remember that the next time you see an abandoned home. Remember that the next time you see a tree that is withered and seemingly vanquished by the elements. The God of all, the God of the earth and all the elements has a better life for you both here and in eternity.
So it is written, so it shall be.