This morning I was snuggled up against the shoulder of my husband on our couch, curtains pulled wide so that I could watch the sun rise over the horizon out our picture window.
I didn’t do it because I had already seen something wonderful out the windows. What I saw was a muddy brown field and dirt road, that blended to a bland gray sky of clouds.
“How thick must those clouds be to block out the light of the sun,” I asked my husband. It was a rhetorical question more than anything because he was nearly back asleep. But I kept watching the view because at our farm, the sunrises are my favorite, and things can change so quickly.
And quickly change it did.
This is far from the most spectacular of sights or sunrises that I have seen at our farm. But there was something particularly powerful about this one that spoke to me today.
Those little streaks of gold and pinks, those beautiful colors, they came through the thick of the clouds today. Not for very long, but despite the long journey and masses of small particles attempting to scatter the light along the way, the light colored the sky.
I am by no means a scientist, with no special training in meteorological conditions. I do know that the wonderful colors that appear at sunrise or sunset happen because at those times of day sunlight passes through a larger amount of atmosphere, where molecules in the air scatter more of the short-wavelength blues & violets. This allows the oranges, pinks, and reds to be more visible to us.
I started to ponder these glimpses of light, these sunrises I so dearly love, as more than just beautiful moments. Instead I wondered about the journey, the obstacles, the deterrents, and the filtering out that takes place to create that wondrous view.
Then I thought about my life. The silly plans I make to move myself directly towards my goals unhindered or disrupted, a straight beam of light. But then comes the atmosphere of daily life, the clouds of circumstances, the brokenness of bad choices, and all the messy molecules that I didn’t plan on.
What if those are the things that really help bring a vibrant beauty to my life? The things that I see as problems God uses as a radiant palate to paint a life with awe inspiring colors.
I thought about the incredible people that I have encountered in my life. I think of the moments I have been blessed to see their exquisiteness on display. In each example I could think of, their lives have held circumstances, brokenness, bad choices, and mess that they have navigated through without being completely scattered. What remains is stunning.
Just because a sunrise is astonishing, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Sometimes it only lasts for a few minutes. A few breaths. A moment. If you don’t look at just the right time you miss it. Instead you see mud and cloudy skies.
I feel like that sometimes. Like there are really pretty moments in my life, vibrant beautiful ones. Not everyone sees those. Sometimes others just see the mud and the clouds. They don’t realize what was or the potential for what could be. Just quickly dismissed as gray and brown blah.
I’m completely guilty of taking a glimpse of others, making a quick judgement, and moving on too. It can be hard to be patient, to wait upon the work it takes to get to a moment of golden goodness.
In the whole scope of eternity, the entirety of my life is like a sunrise. A fleeting flash of life striking through the atmosphere in but a moments time. I have no idea how long my light will last or when it may fade out.
I often think that if my life had less clouds, less pain, less mess, fewer bad choices, that my light would be more radiant, more vibrant, more beautiful. There is so much I wish I could have avoided, wished I would not have experienced, and wish I could go back to change.
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come;
but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish
because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
So with you: Now is your time of grief,
but I will see you again and you will rejoice,
and no one will take away your joy.”
John 16:21-22 (NIV)
Pain, anguish, and grief give way to joy, comfort, and relief.
These blessings come not because we can overcome, or change circumstances, or adjust the past, or find perfect navigation through what the future holds. We can not create peace or relief from our own hands. But we can take hold of the One who can, Jesus.
“I have told you these things,
so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)
I know I have read over this verse many times before, but just today as I am typing have I paid any attention to the punctuation marks. There is an exclamation point at the end of “But take heart!” and there is a period at the end of “I have overcome the world.”
That strikes me as odd. If one of those sentences was worth making a declaration over I would have thought it would be an exclamation of Jesus overcoming the world, all of its sin, pain, problems, and mess. Yet the exclamation is for us to take heart. To have courage. To remember that in the most troublesome times when we are scattered, scared, gray, and in a muddy mess Jesus will not abandon us.
Instead He will give us peace and joy, painting a beautiful sunrise of victory through an atmosphere of suffering.
At some time there will be a sunrise of all sunrises and more beauty that we have ever known will vibrantly burst forth in great glory beyond anything we can comprehend.
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.'”
Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV)
Live It Out
Take a moment to envision the most glorious sunrise that you have ever experienced. Picture in your mind the rich hues of radiant colors that made the sight so alluring to behold. Breathe in the beauty of that moment.
We see beauty and assume that a radiance of that magnitude was achieved only through peak perfection, no clouds, no scattering of intentions, no unforeseen atmospheric conditions.
In this world, in our lives, we will have troubles. I don’t know what troubles you are facing right now. I don’t know what is bringing pain, anguish, and grief into your world.
Perhaps it is a relationship that has fallen apart. Maybe it is the loss of a beloved. It could be a physical ailment, mental anguish, emotional strain, financial setbacks, a feeling of being lost without direction. There are so many, many troubles in our world.
But take heart!
But take heart!
But take heart!
Jesus has overcome the world and its many, many troubles. His hand is out stretched to each of us. Take heart. Take His hand. Let Jesus bring you a peace that passes understanding. Let Jesus help you navigate through all the cloudy complications and scatterings of your plans and pains you are suffering through.
Pray Through It
Thank You so much for overcoming the world. Thank You for being able to bring beauty from the ashes. Thank You for using broken paths to paint lovely colors into our lives and for the moments we pause to breathe them in.
Lord, there are so many things that go astray from what was hoped, anticipated, or planned for. Lord, there are so many troubles in life, so much grief, so much pain. There is a slurry of fears, anxieties, uncertainties, and tears. So much so that some days feel impossible to survive.
But Your goodness, Lord, the glory of who You are, is more lovely than any sunrise. May we have patience to wait, to look at gray skies and muddy fields, yet remain hopeful of seeing the beauty of Your colors in Your time.
In the radiantly beautiful and vibrant name of Jesus, amen.