“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. “ 1 Peter 3:4
I think of all the beautiful and precious things in the world, and right now, everything just looks pale. I wish it didn’t, but it does. It seems like the more I want to look at the Most Beautiful Thing, the harder it gets and the more evasive. Other things start paling in comparison. I haven’t quite figured out how to not get grumpy about my disappointment. It’s like a child who is waiting and looking forward anxiously to spending time with their parent, yet other responsibilites get in the way so that the child must wait and wait and wait some more. I’m like that sulking child. I haven’t figured out how to stop my sulking, Lord.
Here I am reading a book I asked for for Christmas about You Jesus and how You “evangelized.” And I’m seeing again the beauty of You and Your message and Your ways. And that’s really what I want to know and I want to know more of You. And I don’t just want to know about You. I want to know You more and more every day. I want to walk with You like Enoch or David or Moses or Mary Magdelene. I want to walk with You like You want me to walk with You. I want to draw near to Your beauty. I want to be influenced by the beauty of You. I want others to be influenced by that beauty.
I understand David when he cries out, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” My heart cries out for You that way too. Funny thing is, I was just reading another blog about that verse. And in that searching I was doing, You showed me that it wasn’t easy for David either. See, David was a King and a man of war and He was calling out to You to allow Him to have the kind of relationship with You that priests have, not men of war and men of state. How could that even be a possibility? I think it’s true that David was crying out about all the things of his life that stand in the way of that desire, the responsibilites and the interruptions and the events of war and state and family and friends that take that time away. And some of those things may be wonderful yet still distractions from having time with You. Here was this man of war who wanted to spend time just being with You, who would rather be studying about You and learning about You and meditating in Your beauty. I think I have the same questions he does. How do I do it, Lord? How do I meet all my responsibilities and live with the cultural standards in such a way that I can still seek You and dwell with You as my heart desires and as You desire?
Well, David didn’t just ask it of You, he sought it. He took action. But he, like me, had to wait for when You gave him permission to act. I have to learn to wait better, Lord. I have to learn to be content and revel in even the waiting for Your presence. The more I read the Psalms, the more I see people who are just like me, going through problems just like me, struggling with how to live and love and keep a right focus in You and not be twisted by our circumstances. I see people fervent for You but sometimes not responding as You would. Because sometimes I compare the words and prayerful cries of the Psalmists, and I don’t think I would see some of those requests coming out of the mouth of You, Jesus. But then my mouth has cried out some similar things as those Psalmists. But it’s good to know that I’m not alone, that the problems I’m facing, are faceable and overcomeable. It’s good to know that none of this is new to You. It’s good to know that You love me anyways.
There is real pain in life. There is pain in not being near You. I mean, You are a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to Your people. We see that beauty. We want to be near that beauty. We want that beauty to rub off on us. That beauty is full of grace and truth and mercy and forgiveness. We’ve been effected by that beauty. We’ve begun to be changed by that beauty. How sad to be separated even momentarily from the beauty that is You.
But Your desire is not that You be the only beautiful One. Your desire is that Your people would be “a crown of beauty” in Your hand, that they would be “a royal diadem in the hand” of their God. Maybe this is why it hurts so much when we want more of You and everything seems to fight against that, because You created us and put this desire in us to desire more of Your presence so You can rub off on us. How would Moses have shone if he had not come near to Your presence and how would he draw near to Your presence unless You had invited him and he accepted that invitation? It is the same for us. But who will accept unless first they see the beauty of who You are? Otherwise, we send others because we are too afraid to approach You and we miss out on beauty that has no comparison.
We’re supposed to be effected by this beauty, the beauty of Your presence in our own lives. Just like Moses its supposed to make us stand out as different. Ezekiel 16:14 tells us that like Israel, God is equipping us and making us beautiful. Our “renown” is meant to “go forth among the nations because of [our] beauty.” What beauty? The beauty and splendor that You, God bestowed on us. And where does it come from? Truly abiding in the person of Jesus Christ.
I want to pray with Psalm 90:17. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us! Oh, Lord, establish the work of our hands upon us. Be the One to establish it, Lord. I’m so grateful for Your words through Isaiah 6:13. Why is there mourning in Zion? Is it the same reason there is mourning in my soul? Is there mourning because we realize how much we miss Your presence and how much we need You and how much we love You? Well the good news is that You have something special for those kind of mourners, those who mourn after the King. Out of Your presence we are nothing but ashes, but in Your presence You give us beauty. This is not a beauty of our own. This is Your beauty. I don’t want my own beauty. I want to reflect You. I want to shine with You because there’s nothing in me worth shining unless it is You. You replace my mourning with the oil of joy. You anoint me and equip me with Your joy, Your joy that is unspeakable and full of glory! You take this spirit of heaviness, this darknes, and clothe me in praise. That is so amazing in itself. Why? Because You are the One, and the only One worthy of all praise. Why again? Because “‘Praise’ is really genuine adoration and thanksgiving due to the worth of an object.” (Skip Moen) You are the One, the only One who lays Your worth upon me. Imagine the God of eternity, of angel armies, bearing my punishment on the cross just so He can clothe me in His beauty instead. Imagine that! See, once I was an oak of idolatry, all about myself. But You make me a tree of righteousness. You plant me and prune me and care for me and nourish me and the glory and beauty of Your husbandry shines if I let it, if I just accept it, if I just continually bathe in it.
Jesus was beautiful because He was all that You are. You were well pleased in Him not because He understood Your ways and understood what was right and good but because He was willing and freely chose to live out Your intentions, Your resolves. He was Your image and His whole being was wrapped up in You. That should be my model. My life ought to be wrapped up in You, Lord. I want You to be pleased with me like that. I want You to make me beautiful in Your eyes and to see me as beautiful. The truth is that some people don’t please You, like those overthrown in the wilderness. I could just as easily be one of those. Or I could choose to submit to a God of unfathomable love, no matter how hard it is, because I’ve had a glimpse of Your beauty and nothing else compares.
What pleases You, Lord? Sacrifices of bulls and oxen? Or doing good and true fellowship? And what is doing good and true fellowship if it first doesn’t flow from Your goodness and being in fellowship with You? The beauty of the Lord, the wonder of meditating in Your temple, all flows from the goodness that is You and the fellowship that You offer.
David was seeking Your favor. But he wasn’t seeking riches, fame, and fortune. He was seeking the favor of just being able to be allowed to be present with You. He wants Your presence and Your favor. Yet even David had this list of obligations that made this hard. Like Mary, David isn’t the only one who ever took flack over the choice to step away from the important and the trivial to follow our deepest desire and simply sit with Jesus. There are always family needs, toilets needing to be scrubbed, laundry, children to be tended to, friends to visit, jobs to fulfil, phones to answer, dinners to make, oil to change, and the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting, it’s hard, sometimes it’s rewarding and sometimes there is no reward in sight. Sometimes it’s exhilerating and sometimes it’s absolutely draining. And sometimes it’s just discouraging because even the good things and even the loving on others pales in comparison to spending that time with You.
Like David, I don’t want to wait for some time in the future. I want to seek You now. And the beauty of it is that You grant me permission to enter into Your presence. I will seek by setting aside whatever I have to in order to get You. Sometimes it may be my sleep I have to set aside. Sometimes it might be something else I feel obligated to do. Sometimes it might even be a person I need to set aside or their needs. Sometimes I just might need to set myself aside. I have to set it aside for something good, for something better, for something far more beautiful. So Lord, I’m pretty sure that You have actually given me all the time I need to walk with You, to spend time with You, to revel in You. Adjust my priorities so that I use my time rightly as I seek You. Adjust my attitude. Direct my longing. Make me beautiful like You by teaching me how to return and rest in You in every circumstance. Adorn me with the imperishable beauty of Your gentle and quiet spirit.