“When I have found myself at the bottom of a deep, dark well and looked up, my eyes were filled with light.” -James M. Houston, Joyful Exiles

I like people. They please and disappoint me. I’m sure I do the same to them. Life follows a challenging pattern: sighs of relief and waves of grief and sighs of relief and so on. Who can’t relate? This whole world is challenging, utterly, as seen even in harmless beautiful things. Healthy flowers, bathing in the sun and minding their own business, cast shadows on the same spot where they’ll lie brown and shriveled the next day. Hard to see relief in that. 

But someone told me just the other day, “When I see a dying flower, it makes me feel sad, which in turn makes me feel happy.” When I pressed for how this could be, they continued. “Don’t get me wrong; I feel much happier when I see a flower alive and flourishing. It’s just that the poignancy of anything fading away reminds me that this is not the way it was meant to be, and that God, who is the creator of all beauty and vitality, promises one day nothing will ever die again and people won’t hurt people and all will be made whole. And that makes me happy.” I was outwardly appreciative of their elegant insights, and I’ve been inwardly busy ever since, trying to connect those insights to me, this earth, and mostly my relationships.

This is what I’ve come up with (so far): 

It is hard on us to come to know someone deeply only to find that they are as flawed as we are; or to borrow the words of Frederick Buechner, “that they are as full of shadows as the rest of us.” But I am learning, a sigh at a time, that when we long for Jesus—the one with no flaws—most intently, God allows the shadows of this world to become more conspicuous, not less. And I can only believe it’s that way because it’s the best way to keep pointing us to a future home He already has prepared for us, where the world’s pattern is finally broken, the waves of grief are no more, and life and love is all there is.

I hope this encourages you to look on the bright side today.

(For further contemplation: Rom 8:28: Ps 23:1-6; Rev 21:1-27)

Kevin Murray
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