By Jessica Boerckel
I remember this reoccurring dream I had as a preteen. I was lying feverishly in a hospital bed, probably bald, and dying of some horrific disease (yet, I looked ravishing in spite of my shiny head and lack of days left). I would spend my final moments listening to all the beautiful eulogies people spoke of my nobility and grace, while my lumberjack-looking lover stood by my bedside, faithful to the end, completely absorbed in my beauty and goodness. I would like to say this dream is all over and never revisited, but man, does it sound good to be that magnetic and lovely. To my shame, I can still operate like this with God. I want Him to be attracted to my good deeds, my sacrifice and self-control. I want Him to applaud how I felt during the worship songs and to give me a shiny sticker for keeping my house fairly tidy. I want Him to be impressed with my compassion towards others and that hefty wad of cash I put in the plate. I want Him to save the most honorable services for me because I am such a catch. Really, I want to be the beautiful one and have God notice. And heck, people can notice too.
The problem with my dream is that it can only hold up so long until walls come crashing down. The fleeting vision I have of my attractiveness and ability are destroyed when my kids throw tantrums in the grocery store, when I spank them out of anger and crush their spirits, and when I listen to the burdens of a friend and secretly enjoy a boost of self-esteem. The dream is dissolved when I burn dinner for company, when I feel so depressed I can’t change out of pajamas, when I leave church early because I feel insecure and not in the mood to mingle. These are all reality checks. These are all grace. My self-absorbed dream would slit my throat each and every time, but God has relentlessly saved my life by reminding me that I am made of dust, like grass that is thrown out, like a flower that is here today and gone tomorrow, like a utensil for the use of its master, like a jar of clay that contains a treasure.
These reality checks that God graciously gives (sometimes painfully, as a sword in the gut, and sometimes so gently I almost miss it in the noise of my brain) reveals the truth that I am needy and broken and ugly in myself, and that He alone deserves the spot of adoration. He is the Beautiful One, never me. He is the One seated on His throne, with angels spending their days and nights repeating a single word and never boring of it. Holy, Holy, Holy. They repeat their exclamations of His perfection without tiring because it is so fitting. C.S. Lewis famously said, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
If my highest desire is to be noticed by God and man in order to obtain favor and recognition, I am, as Lewis says, “far too easily pleased.” I confess my hands are filthy with mud. I have made enough mud pies for everyone at Bethany to have seconds. I am sick of making mud pies. It becomes inevitable to face the facts: mud pies taste like mud. My greatest attempts and ambitions all have the bitter flavor of sin. I cannot go on in the slum when my soul was designed for the sea. I hear the call, and I am desperate to look to the One who is entirely Other, all together Beautiful.
Let us imagine and look forward to the day when all Beauty will be seen and heard in heaven’s courtyards. The Word says that “His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God…on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19:12-13, 16)
Hello! My name is Jessica and I am a mama to Moses and Lucy and Lisette, and wife to Micah (remember the tall guy who was always smiling?). We called Bethany Baptist home until our family migrated up North for four years at Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, I hold down the fort at home untangling kids and stretching a pound of hamburger inventively. We love the gospel and pray that God will one day use us to tell unreached people all about Him!