A Beautiful Life

A while back, I was reflecting on the academy-award winning movie, “Life Is Beautiful.”  Oh, how I long to have that attitude, I thought. Just as the main character in the movie continued to see life as beautiful–even in the midst of devastating circumstances during war time — so can every Christian.

Lately I’ve been focusing on three qualities of God that make Him beautiful. The wonderful news is that He wants to share these attributes with His children. As I ask God to pour these into my life, I can say — even in difficult times — “My life is beautiful.”

Beautify your life with patience. My friend, Juanita, had patience–and its byproduct, peace. She didn’t talk much about her ongoing battle with cancer, except to say “God’s working everything out in His time.”

“How are you?” I asked during a hospital visit, months before her death.

“I have so much to be thankful for” she said and told me of kindnesses shown to her that day.
My impatience and staying problem-focused has often kept me from having a grateful heart and seeing beautiful ways people and the Lord touch my life.

As I meditate on His promises rather than on problems, my life begins to look beautiful. I can see what God’s already done rather than zeroing in on prayers yet unanswered. I can celebrate that “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).  I especially see this in regard to painful struggles in our 30-year marriage.

Recently I heard someone say, “There can be no resurrection without death.”  I marvel at how God has brought beauty from ashes repeatedly in my life–over time (See Isaiah 61:3). Impatience can keep me blind to that fact.

Beautify your life with holiness. Instead of embracing God’s command to “Be holy because I am holy”  (1 Peter 1:16) I’ve too often focused on being happy.

I’ve asked, “Am I happy here?” about my marriage, motherhood, ministries, and my job. God revealed that the happiness question is not important–even though God promises happiness as a result of obedience: “the one who trusts in the LORD will be happy” (Proverbs 16:20).

The important questions to ask are: “Are my choices pleasing to the Lord?” “Is what I’m doing serving His purposes?” and “Am I willing to continue on the path of holiness, so I can bring glory to Him?”

One way to stay open to God’s purpose of making me holy is to spend time in worship. “Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness” (Psalm 29:2) Worship isn’t limited to church services. I seek to worship God with my life. This means always remembering how great and wonderful He is and to respond through obedience. One definition of holy that God gave to me is this: “Becoming holy is becoming wholly His.”

Beautify your life with humility. Pride in me says, “I don’t deserve to suffer like this,” or “I demand a perfect, pain-free life.” Yet as I humbly embrace suffering, I’m drawn closer to God. The closer I get, the more His beauty flows into my life. My new goal to replace “Avoid suffering” is “Have Christ’s humble attitude,” which I read about in Philippians 2:5-8.

Nancy Guthrie, who suffered through the deaths of two of her children as infants from a hereditary disease, writes in her book, Holding on to Hope, “Have you ever noticed that people who suffer are marked with a beauty, a deepening, a transformation?” Beauty does come forth during times of suffering, but only as I allow myself to be humbled. Pride blocks God’s beauty from flowing into my life. (See James 4:6)

One area where I’ve battled pride is with my children. If I do all these things, they’ll  turn out great, I thought. I did everything I knew to raise godly children, but still they rebelled. Self-pity fueled by pride set in. I envied mothers of young people who were devoted to the Lord. I had difficulty loving my children. I felt continually angry with them — and with God.

Fortunately, God brought me to Philippians 2:3 “in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” This gave me a different view of my children. I realized it wasn’t all about me. I saw that the prideful reason I desired my children to turn out beautifully was because I wanted the credit.

As God humbles me, beauty springs forth from my brokenness. He gives me the grace to love my children right where they are. I empathize with their struggles as I’m reminded of those I had when I was their age. I believe God will intervene in their lives just as He has in mine.

Psalm 149:4 promises “He will beautify the humble with salvation.” (AMP) This verse is talking about more than just eternal salvation. Salvation can also be about God’s rescuing power. He may not rescue me from difficulties, but as I seek to align my will with His, He will free me from my destructive responses to them.

The lie I’m tempted to believe is that if my life is hard and involves deep suffering, then it’s ugly. But then I’m reminded that Jesus suffered, and His was the most beautiful human life ever lived. Also, great beauty sprang forth from His suffering.

Nancy Guthrie challenges readers with this question, “Would you look beyond this life and embrace the Redeemer, who will take the pieces of your life and transform them into something beautiful if you invite him to do so?”

That is my heart’s desire. I pray the following for myself, my loved ones, and the whole body of Christ: “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us…” (Psalm 90:17 KJV) That’s what makes our lives beautiful.

This article first appeared in the May 2007 issue of Journey. ©2007 Lifeway Press