sunset

Glory from the Gloom

It had been a rainy day. A dreary day. The kind of rain that just lingers for long hours, falling from a heavy, dense and gloomy sky. Late afternoon came, although nothing but the clock would tell you that, the sun masked by layer on layer of murky clouds.

The rain slowed to a mist, a few drops here and there, the clouds glided away to the next town, and shy rays of light started to break through. A glorious, bright and clear rainbow cut through the clouds like an effervescent path to glory. And on the other side of the sky, if you swiveled your eyes around 180 degrees, there it was.  

A masterpiece was on display. It wasn't framed behind glass with ropes holding back pushy crowds. It wasn't locked up in a museum's special exhibit. It was spread across the sky, and I was sitting in the middle of the parking lot on wet asphalt to watch it. 

 

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Glorious. Radiant. Breathtaking. Not even those words contain it or come close. Those colors don't have names. That sunset couldn't be captured in a photo. The immensity doesn't translate through a screen.  

That type of beauty could only come after the rain, after all the rain had fallen from the sky and all the darkness had consumed the day, after the clouds had hung heavy and full of the weight of the rain, the storm.

It was worth it. A million stormy days in a row would be worth it to see the sky light up like that, to see every second bring a new burst of gold, new streak of pink, new shadow of purple. I couldn't look away. I was mesmerized, captivated. I was in awe that such beauty came on such a gray day.  

Then bursting forth, in glorious day... Amen to that.

Glory comes after gloom. Beauty comes from brokenness. Light comes after loss.  

The storms, the rain, the hurt, the darkness, those aren't the end of the story. Hold on, hold tight, wait it out. Wait for the masterpiece that will blow you away. Wait for the next scene, the one you can't quite imagine or foresee. Wait on the Lord and know He is the author of a story of glory in your life.

The first Friday freewrite: Bare but beautiful

If you have no idea what this whole “Friday freewrite” deal is, read this post. And then come back here, and read on. If you want, you can even join in, too. Happy Friday!

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Driving home a few nights ago as the sun was fading out of the sky, I was in awe of the stark beauty of winter trees against the streaky, watercolor sunset. When the sun is almost out of sight and the clouds are illuminated with colors so vibrant and rich, the silhouette of the trees is bold and beautiful. The branches are bare, no leaves to hide the setting sun from view, just dark shoots of wood in harsh lines against the soft sky.

We are those trees. There are seasons of our lives where we are barren. We feel stripped of the things that make us beautiful. We feel dead, naked, exposed, far from our fullest potential.

But it isn’t about us. It’s about the radiant, glorious Light of all the world. It’s about not just the sun, but the Son of our living God. And when are lives are seen up against His, it isn’t the nakedness and the bareness of our lives that stands out, it’s the radiance of His shining through us. It’s a season where we feel like we aren’t offering the world much, we aren’t bearing fruit, we aren’t seeing the growth, but He is using those times when there is less in the way competing for His attention, and He is shining unbelievably through us. Can you picture that?

It’s not about us. It’s not about our best efforts and our best fruit and our best seasons of growth. Those make us who we are, yes. But our life has always come from the Son, like a tree’s life has always come from the bright and shining sun. Our growth has always come from taking root in Him. Our beauty has always come from His beauty radiating out of our souls. Our light has always been a tiny flicker of His mighty fire.

Our dead branches stand out in stark contrast against His beauty, His glory, His perfection. But that contrast is what makes us human, what makes Him divinity. We are His, and He makes us glorious when He shines through us, even in our seasons of winter.

Alive.

My Savior is alive.

All morning, throughout worship and the message at church, I was in awe of that. He is alive. Living, breathing, moving, working, healing, saving...alive. I've known this, it's not new to me. But I'm in awe of it still.

He is alive in beauty. I mean, seriously, have you seen the sunsets this past week? He is glorious. Beauty unimagined, and those fiery skies are just a glimpse of His splendor.

He is alive in answered prayers. He is listening, hearing, responding, providing. He is opening doors and creating opportunities and making a way for us one step at a time.

He is alive in community. He is among is when we gather, around fireplaces and crowded living rooms in small group, in spacious sanctuaries with the masses, around dinner tables and in coffeeshops. He is bringing us together, holding us together, uniting us as His body in the flesh.

He is alive in worship. He is in the chords and in the harmonies, the sweet melodies and the joined voices, in the tunes and the words and the simple and beautiful praises we give to Him. He is glorified in out worship, He is praised as we humble ourselves before Him, He is lifted high as we lift our voices and our hands to all that He is and will be and has always been.

He is alive in perfect love. He is our Father, loving us relentlessly and wholly and so deeply, filling every beat of our hearts and every depth of our souls in ways we didn't know possible. He is our Creator, the one who knit us together as we are for a purpose so specific and so intentional. We are His. Nobody could love us the way He does, endlessly, perfectly, with all-consuming love.

He is alive in victory. He conquered everything we never could. He went to the places we are scared to go, He went to the cross, He went to the grave, He went to the darkness and the deepest depths, and He came again in glory and in victory, conquering it all. He took our very worst and He became our salvation. The grave didn't hold him. Death didn't keep him. He defeated it. He rose. He has risen. He's alive, He's alive.

Let us, the body of Christ, come alive. Let us shake off the fear, the doubt, the worry, the apathy, the uncertainty, the excuses. Let us wake up, open our eyes, come alive again.

"Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

All morning, I kept repeating as I worshipped, "You are alive, You're alive, You, my Savior, are alive." And then, the worship team played this song, and I just laughed as I sang, as I lifted my hands and rejoiced in the words and the worship and the praise of my God who is so very alive.

Christ is risen from the dead Trampling over death by death Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave

Christ is risen from the dead We are one with him again Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave

Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IExdrZGQVeI&w=420&h=315]

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