This past year, my husband and I were very blessed to celebrate our 25th anniversary in the jungles of Costa Rica. We rented a house that was literally built on the side of a mountain overlooking the jungle. Each morning, as our Creator stretched the sun and clouds across the sky, the mist rose slowly in the valley of the jungle, ushering in a new day of hope and blessing.
He brought us toucans with bright yellow beaks and squirrel monkeys for our pure enjoyment. Our views there were just breath-taking and the Glory of God completely surrounded us.
Later in the week, we found out on Facebook a precious young couple from our church was finally ready to deliver their first baby. Several weeks before, the mother was admitted into the hospital because the baby’s heart rate was dangerously high. Doctors gave mom several rounds of med’s to try to lower the baby’s heart rate without endangering mom. Many prayers were lifted up to keep the baby safely in utero for several more weeks and the day finally came, for baby Luke to be welcomed into the world. It was a joyous celebration on Facebook as we saw pictures being posted.
In the midst of that week’s magnificence, however, I had a deep devastating ache in my heart the day that Luke was born. You see, in stark contrast to all of life’s beauty that week, I was keenly aware of the suffering of my dear friend, Julie, who had a mastectomy the day before. Cancer is such a dark, ugly disease that threatens to destroy beauty. As my heart broke over Julie’s pain, a quote from my morning devotion, Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts ”, came into my mind “…somewhere, underneath the grime of this broken world, everything has the radiant fingerprints of God on it.”
Yes, cancer is ugly, but I see, in Julie, a radiant, beautiful lady, fully alive in Christ, illuminated by His very fingerprints.
Life’s grime can be so dark it threatens to swallow us up. I received an email that same morning from a friend whose brother found out his first infant grandchild did not have a heartbeat. The precious little girl, Anya, was carried by her mother for almost 9 months. How does a family recover from such devastating events? Unimaginable grief threatens to swallow us and pull us into a pit so deep we can’t seem to see any light. But we breathe, one breath at a time, and allow the God of hope to sustain us. He brings our daily manna. He brings the light. He is the Light. Only God can shine His Light into the darkest places of our hearts and turn our ashes into beauty.
And as we breathe, He breathes life back into us and soon we are transfigured.
That day, surrounded by the beauty of the jungles of Costa Rica with the heaviness of cancer and death, it occurred to me.
Isn’t this the portrait of a believer’s life on this side of eternity – the juxtaposition of life’s grime beside God’s beauty?
The grime can be pretty dirty at times – thick and heavy sticking to our souls until we feel almost suffocated. We gasp, we breathe and we inhale God’s breath. Only God’s gift of grace and His Word can wash away life’s grime.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” Ephesians 5:25-26
It is the Word that cleanses, it is the Word that washes away life’s dirty grime, grime that has been embedded into the deep creases of our souls. It is the Word made flesh, who brings Living Water. It is here, where healing begins, as we are nourished and refreshed by the water of the Word.
He restores, He renews, He redeems, so that our lives can sing praises to the One who has His radiant fingerprints on us all.
Father, I lift up my sister out there who is so covered with the grime of life, she cannot breathe. Only You can breathe life back into her. Do Your miraculous work in her today. Lift her out of the dirt that has become her pit. Gently wash her with Your Living Water. Heal her, restore her and make her whole. In Your Beautiful Son’s Name, I pray. Amen.