Encountering Beauty

20161130_100742-EFFECTSSometimes, I encounter beauty that takes my breath away.  It’s happened before as I was gazing out across a lush, tree-covered valley atop a fog-cloaked mountain in the Costa Rican rain forest.  I’ve experienced awe in the midst of beautiful Colorado mountains, standing tall and immoveable against a clear blue sky.  It’s occurred when I hear stories of people who pour out costly love on others, such as the policeman who adopted the drug-addicted baby of a homeless, drug-addicted woman he happened to encounter.  And most poignantly, my heart soars with joyful hope (and simultaneously cries with longing) when I encounter a glimpse of the glorious, all-encompassing love of my Rescuer.

That happened today.

It’s been a long day, and I’m pretty tired–my kids have been sick most of the week, and last night my baby was up until midnight and then my toddler and pre-schooler were up (as usual) by 5:30am.  I was at work all day (I’m a nurse and work weekends), which is often a much-needed break from the chaos of 3 children who are 4 years old and under–but at work, I can’t sneak in a short 15 minute nap like I (very rarely) can at home.

So…my primary goal was survival.  But while I was at work, I was standing on the third story looking out through the wall of windows.  Now, where I live, we don’t have many breath-taking vistas.  We have flat, scrubby grasslands–and lots of concrete and buildings in the cities.  I was actually just looking out across a mostly-empty parking lot, but the sun was shining just so, and I was thinking about Jesus coming as Light into our darkness, and my heart started to quicken.  And though I was tired and cranky, peace and hope began pouring over me and filling me up, and I just couldn’t help but rejoice at the beauty of Jesus coming to show us the way out of our brokenness and evil.

And then I came home, and I was rocking my baby at bedtime, and a beautiful person I’ve known a long time texted to ask me how much money we still need to create The Advent Storybook, my illustrated children’s book on Kickstarter.  I told her we had about 10 days left and still need over $12,000 in order to reach our goal.  But I reassured her that I won’t give up if this first campaign fails, and I shared that a traditional publishing company is potentially interested in partnering with us and sharing some of the costs! We’d still need to pay for all of the illustrations, but they would help cover the cost of printing the books, so a second Kickstarter attempt could actually start out with a lower, more-reachable goal!

And then…

She told me that she felt like the Lord was telling her to give me $12,000 to make the book happen.

This generous, beautiful person is not wealthy.  At all.  Her overwhelming generosity took my breath away, but I immediately told her that I just can’t accept a gift like that.  I can’t.  It’s far, far more than she can afford–and if this first attempt fails, we’ll just keep trying!

And then she told me that she believed in me.  And that she feels like God has a plan for this book.  And I thought back over all the times she has encouraged me, believed in me, and loved me over the years.  And my eyes filled with tears.

I tearfully thanked her and expressed my gratitude at her costly love and generosity but reiterated that I just can’t accept that gift.  If God wants it to happen, it will happen–without her bank account being emptied!

Even though I can’t accept her gift, I felt compelled to share the beauty of her love.  Real, true love is always beautiful.  Real, true love is meeting the needs of another even at great cost to oneself.  True love is wanting good for someone and then doing that good for them.  This precious person was willing to give far more than she is able in order to meet a need, because she wants to share the story of Jesus’ rescue with children all over the world (through my book).  That’s love.

And God is real, true love.

Jesus came to rescue us out of our broken, destructive, dark evil and into His glorious, freeing, beautiful love.  He came to rescue us and make everything good and new again, like it was in the beginning.  He came to restore our ability to love and know we are loved.

I don’t often encounter the beautiful love this person was so willing to bestow on me.  And I know that He is at work in her life, growing that willingness to sacrifice and pour such costly love on me and others.  Her love looks a lot like His love–I recognize the beauty of her love because I’ve encountered it before in the Source of true Light, Life, and Love.  Can you imagine what life would be like if everyone loved like this beautiful person (and like God)?  That’s the way things were before everything shattered in the Garden so long ago.  It would be paradise–perfect friendships between God, people, and Creation.

I still don’t know how this book will be funded.  I’m still really tired.  But I’ve encountered beauty and love today that took my breath away.

We celebrate Christmas because God poured out costly love on us, gifting us with a beautiful Rescuer who will make right all that is wrong.  That gift overwhelms me, and it’s one I know I don’t deserve…but I’m holding on to that beauty and goodness and hope with everything in me.  His gift cost Him far more than I can comprehend, but I accept it wholeheartedly.  May we remember and celebrate and reach out toward Jesus.

Merry Christmas!




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