“You make beautiful things; You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things; You make beautiful things out of us” – Beautiful Things by Gungor
I like beautiful things. I have always liked them. My parents used to tease me about my expensive taste as a child. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with liking nice things. God has created some of us (not all) to really value His splendour, creativity and the shiny things that this earth has to offer.
When we decided to move to rural Zululand 7 years ago we gave up the lavish and beautiful life of the Garden Route and moved to a government hospital in, what I had considered at the time, the middle of nowhere! Soon we were surrounded by dusty dirt roads, fly covered cows, overcrowded shops, mud and stick huts and the few tarred roads completely covered in rubbish and refuse. It was a culture shock to say the least. But there was beauty hidden all around me if I only chose to “see”. Apart from the scenic surroundings, we were also suddenly surrounded by so much poverty, hurt and desperation. Human hurt and hopelessness often presents itself covered in dirt, stench and despair. This raw human condition is not easy to see. From the disabled teenage boy that I found crawling through an open fire during home visits; the swollen eyes of a young girl beaten by her drunk parents – too hurt and ashamed to look me in the eye; the stench of an elderly friend and neighbour who was too ill and too tired to care about washing after he had soiled himself. This is the true, raw, human state that we often try to overlook. But in all of this, over the years, God has started showing me that He makes all things beautiful.
“Of one thing I am perfectly sure; God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.” Elisabeth Elliot
I have never known how to handle this much brokenness, this much “ugliness”, and I have often dealt with it, with dear hurting friends, in the most foolish ways. Once I found myself rubbing Vicks on the inside of a TB mask before providing counselling to a man passing away of AIDS. I simply did not know how to handle the stench of rotting, decaying flesh. I still don’t. And that is ok. Maybe I will need to step outside more often for a breather. What I do know now, in hindsight – no one wants to be comforted by a mask in his or her final hours. Even in this horrible, embarrassing situation – this man would have wanted to see my smile, to see my tears and to see that even in this broken earthly moment God makes all things beautiful.
I feel a shift in my spirit and that is why I share these thoughts. I know that this year God is calling us to harder places. I know that He is going to share many broken situations with us here at Izandla and He offers the invitation to step into these moments and help make them beautiful. God is inviting you and me to share in His eternal plan of reuniting man with his Maker. Man, however, has fallen and has fallen far.
“He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes; the oil of joy instead of mourning; and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Is. 61:3
We get to share in this beautiful plan of making beauty from ashes. May we not hide behind a mask; may we not choose to look the other way; may we not cower in fear. May we learn to boldly stare death and decay in the eye and speak beauty, to speak life!
He makes all things beautiful…