Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ugly Can Be Beautiful

I'm thinking of painting a big mural of an electric chair on my outdoor shed, and lighting it up at night so everyone driving by can see it clearly.

Okay, not really. After all, who wants to be reminded of a man-made killing machine created for the sole purpose of taking someone's life? It's not a decoration... it's ugly. People die a cruel, painful, humiliating death in those things. Yet, I saw something similar on a back country road last night, and it brought me a sense of peace and hope that I desperately needed.

Of course. It was a cross. A simple lighted cross on the side of a barn. I can't begin to tell you the overwhelming sense of God's presence that flooded my soul like a tsunami when I saw that ancient instrument of torture. Come on, let's be real. The cross wasn't meant to be pretty. It was meant to a painful, public, humiliating and cruel way to punish criminals. Yet we've dressed it up, we wear it around our necks, print it on our shirts and bumper stickers and tattoo it on our bodies. Why? Because for all of its ugliness, the cross is a beautiful thing.

That's just what God does best. He takes something ugly and makes it beautiful. All day long yesterday I was at the point of despair, reminded of all of the beauty God gave us, and how the world has turned it into something ugly. He gave us love, and we hate. He gave us language, and we abuse each other. He gave us the laughter of children, and we throw them away like garbage before they take their first breath. He made woman and man for each other, yet the world thinks it knows better and sets out to destroy the God-ordained institution of sacred marriage. The clay is telling the Potter, "You don't know what you're doing. I know You're the Creator, but you messed up." As Christians, we're not of the world, but we're still in it. The pain and sorrow of it all was getting to be too much last night. I was hurting for people I dearly love.

Then again, that's why Jesus went to the cross.

For the most part, I stopped believing in coincidence years ago. Oh sure, sometimes I'll be thinking of someone just as the phone rings, and there they are! But I've seen God's hand at work too many times to just chalk it all up to happenstance. No, there was a reason I chose to drive down an unfamiliar country road late at night, and come across not one, but two beautiful lighted crosses in two separate yards. God always seems to do this to me when I need a good kick in the pants. Correction... He doesn't do it to me. He does it for me.

Just like He did on the cross.

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