It was on a flight to Florida. We were a few hours into what had already been a great experience. It was my first private flight and our low altitude kept the ground in view, providing continuous beautiful scenery [and, thus, excuses to grab my camera :)].
In the final leg of the flight, all of a sudden, we were overtaken by the most glorious sky. Colors and dimensions, clouds and light, all merged to create an exquisite masterpiece.
Breathtaking is the word that comes to mind. It was one of those encounters with beauty that leaves you stunned by God’s extravagance.
The Nikon was snapping uncontrollably. What a gift for the start of this trip.
While discussing the sky, the point came up that clouds and post-storm skies always make for the most gorgeous sunsets, a point I’ve found myself pondering as I’ve admired some evening skies in recent months.
There’s a story these skies are telling–about life in the Kingdom and what it looks like to follow Jesus.
A story in which extravagant beauty emerges from conflict and opposition.
In order to have the splendor of post-storm skies, there has to be a storm. There has to be tension. Uncertainty. Danger. Imperfection. And bumps.
Turbulence comes with these conditions. We got ample experience with the bumpiness of beautiful skies just before landing. There were lots of quiet and many prayers during that stretch. But the bumps were worth the beauty.
And they are a required part of the story. In the Kingdom, tension and beauty are inextricably connected.
As a whole, we are obsessed with things being perfect. Most of us spend endless time and energy trying to calculate our lives in an attempt to pursue this elusive [and false] thing called perfection.
Maybe some of us don’t think of it as perfection. We simply want our lives to run “smoothly.” Whatever we call it, the falsehood is the same.
Because the truth is, life is not perfect. Families are not perfect. Relationships often bump into terrain that is anything but smooth.
And the natural response when turbulence comes is to attempt to escape it. Make it stop. Pray it into oblivion.
We see tension as a problem to be eliminated. We don’t want the inconvenience of conflict. We want smoothness.
But friends, cloudless, stormless skies never offer the deepest beauty. They fall short of God’s extravagance. They don’t bring us to our knees. They don’t cause the seed inside of us to grow.
Beyond being elusive and false, perfection is also boring. It has no need of God because it’s managing just fine with its own calculations and non-opposition. No growth, just maintenance of the status quo. No authentic life, rather a settling for the counterfeit.
The most stunning skies tell a much better story than smoothness. A story full of imperfection, yes. But imperfection that’s being molded into a masterpiece by the light of Christ.
The light of Christ. The central component.
What made that Florida sky so beautiful was the shining of the sun upon the clouds and “imperfections.” The sun illuminated the mixture of shapes, colors, and shadows, making it a masterpiece.
If all of those same elements were suspended in a pitch-black sky, no beauty would be visible. The potential would remain unreached and hidden because it wasn’t illuminated. Problems, turbulence, and imperfection alone hold no value.
But, oh, when they are infused with the light of Christ!
It’s no accident that Jesus is called “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9 NIV). His light is the essential element that illuminates and informs the chaos of our lives, making our lives His masterpiece.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said, ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” (Eph 5:13-14 NIV, emphasis added)
He will shine on our mess. And because He lives inside of those who are His, He will shine through us as we navigate the bumps, turmoil, and imperfections of our lives.
Following Jesus is a mixture of hardship and breakthrough. Tension, yet peace. Weightiness and glory.
There were moments in our flight when we were so immersed in a cloud that it was all we could see. The visibility of what lay ahead was reduced to nothing. But then, suddenly, we were out of the cloud and the big picture was in view again. This happened repeatedly.
The masterpiece sky was present even when we were totally immersed in a cloud. The sun was still shining – we just couldn’t see it for a while.
The sun’s light was a constant, even in the midst of rain, bumps, smoothness, clouds, clarity, and changes in direction.
So it is with the Son. If we are in Him, His light is our constant. He illuminates the masterpiece in the making as we hold suffering and joy, warfare and peace, in tension. And His craftsmanship is most evident when His light radiates in the midst of imperfection.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on hayleyhewitt.com.
Featured Image by davide ragusa