An Imperishable Beauty
“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (I Peter 4:4—ESV).
Walking side by side with her father in the October sunshine, the princess stooped to pick up a fallen leaf.
“Why do leaves turn color before they fall to the ground in autumn?” Princess asked, eyes wide with wonder.
Thinking a moment before answering, the father considered the question, conjuring knowledge from deep within—facts learned somewhere, from someone, long ago. “Well,” he began, “It has to do with the change of seasons–the colder temperatures, as well as the amount of rainfall that …”
Impertinent, Princess humphed, “But why do they …”
The father’s wise soliloquy having been so rudely cut short, he, too, interrupted. “You know—photosynthesis and …”
“But why?” Princess nearly shouted, clearly frustrated with too much detail.
Father paused, realized there was a more profound answer, and it was for such that the princess-heart was seeking.
“In short,” Father began, “Because they’re dying.”
“Dying.” The girl’s echo sounded almost relieved, though with a hint of surprise.
“Yes, the leaves turn color as they’re dying, before they let go the limb, fall to the ground. Before they’re raked into crunchy piles where children play, where squirrels seek refuge, and …”
But Father’s words were lost. He could see that his Princess-Girl was deep in thought, her pondering barely above a whisper, rose-bud lips forming the words to the answer she’d sought–
There’s beauty in dying.
Each day is a grace, is it not? We’re each dying–perishing bit by bit despite our grasping for outward beauty. Such is the curse of sin. Hair thins. Waistlines thicken. Wrinkles increase as skin’s turgor decreases. Exercise is harder, while weight gain comes easier. Hormones lead to more fitful sleep, often resulting in less energy—an overall listlessness—come daybreak.
Things aren’t as God intended when He first breathed life into that which was formless. Void. In the beginning there was no such thing as death–not even for leaves on trees (though the beauty of autumn is yet one more gift of His grace).
Aging, thus, is out of one’s control, no matter how we fight. The ticking down of seconds that add up to minutes that accumulate, become hours, before collectively converting into days, months, and years—all which pass too quickly.
And social media doesn’t help matters–with its “On This Day” memories of years past.
“Wow! I remember that outfit. It sure wouldn’t fit anymore.”
“Look at my hair! It was so thick and healthy back then. And where’s the gray?”
“My, oh my! I remember doing that, though I could never accomplish such today.”
In a blog by “Anon” (January 9, 2020), one reads–
Timehop, Facebook Memories and Instagram Archive [are] the three deadly sins in digging up more care free times, pre breakup happiness or how good your skin looked … (from The Insecure Girls Club).
Wow! If the enemy of our souls had his way, he’d certainly keep us stuck in self-pity, lamenting our shortcomings, nursing our insecurities. This snide serpent hisses lies which keep us focused on ourselves, where we’re of no benefit to anyone, though time certainly doesn’t stop in such self-centered grief—just cuts the rut deeper as the clock and calendar continue to turn.
Oh, this isn’t the perfect plan of our sweet Savior—the One who, though sinless, died for our shortcomings, then conquered death and rose again that we, too, might have eternal life, the perfection of Heaven. He’s a Redeemer, after all.
Pause for just a moment. Allow a selah to stop. Think. The words are right there on the page of Peter’s first letter to a persecuted, battle-worn, weary people.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved … so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:3-7—ESV).
Speaking Peter’s words will dispel any doubt, because scripture is a wielded weapon when held in a warrior’s hand. It’s a true Love Story from beginning to end—from its Once upon a time “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) to its closing words. Though not the familiar The End, they point us to something far better–that something yet to come when the Prince of Peace returns, as John shares his revelation of Jesus’ promise.
“Surely I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20).
Now, armed and ready, reread Peter’s words–only this time, make it personal as you gaze kindly–yes, lovingly, dear heart–at your reflection.
“Blessed be the God and Father of MY Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused ME to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for ME, who by God’s power is being guarded through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this, I rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, I’ve been grieved … so that the tested genuineness of MY faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Okay now. Turn from the mirror prepared to wage war with the enemy of this world … With. Such. Truth.
There are others who need to know that they reflect their Creator in all His unfading beauty, and time’s ticking. Earth’s tomorrow isn’t promised, and yesterday’s a thing of the past. Thankfully, we know the One who holds the future, and we know the end of the story.
Wrinkles are laugh lines containing a tale, a broader waistline the mark of enjoying life’s dessert–like bearing children and eating cheesecake.
Go out and gaze at the changing leaves. Extend kindness while you can. Seek beauty everywhere. Look for Love in every unexpected place.
And once the leaves let go, pile them up and jump into God’s bountiful grace, celebrating life–yes, even in death.
You’ve earned it, and your beauty is imperishable, precious in the King’s sight.
So shout with me …
Come, Prince Jesus! Come!