The Beautiful in the Ugly


The other day, a dear friend and I were having a heart-to-heart talk.

We are both wrestling with the “whys?” as we each endure a long season that can sometimes sap a soul of strength.  Even when one is surrendered to the sometimes- mysterious- but- always- faithful ways of Jesus, there are still times of weariness.

Prior to our conversation, I had been re-reading One Thousand Gifts  by Ann Voskamp. In chapter 7, Ann recounts a day that was marred by anger, sin, and ugliness. She asks, “How do I  fix this?  Them?  Me?”  

In the messy, Jesus whispers, “What do you want?” and in the ugly, I cry, ‘I want to see YOU…

He speaks soft, “Seek My face.”  

So, Ann begins to count her blessings: “Thank You for here and now. Thank You that You don’t leave us in this mess.” 

Then she writes, ” I look for the ugly-beautiful,  count it as grace, transfigure the mess into joy with thanks.” (pp. 125-127).

And a day is transformed as His grace and love liberated a soul from the suffocating shackles of self.

My mind turned to this passage and I felt as if I was being issued a divine invitation. So I suggested that the two of us make that day a quest to find the beautiful in the midst of the ugly.

The risen Jesus is indescribably beautiful (Revelation 1:10-16). Since He is always present, beauty can always be found.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I prayed, “Lord, open my eyes to see the beautiful in this ugly.”

Almost immediately, the  title of an Anne Graham Lotz book popped into my mind: Pursuing More of Jesus.  I found it easily and began to read.

When I got to chapter 3, I knew I had found the main answer to my prayer, as Anne poured out thunderous praise from a heart full of passionate love for her Savior. Here is what she wrote about Jesus:

He is enduringly strong. He is entirely sincere. He is eternally steadfast.

He is immortally gracious. He is imperially powerful. HE is impartially merciful.

He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe.

He is God’s Son. He is the sinner’s Savior. He is the captive’s ransom.

He is the breath of life. He is the centerpiece of civilization. He stands in the solitude of Himself.

He is august and He is unique. He is unparalleled and He is unprecedented. 

He is undisputed and He is undefiled. He is unsurpassed and He is unshakeable.

He is the lofty idea in philosophy. He is the highest personality in psychology.

He is the supreme subject in literature. He is the unavoidable problem in higher criticism.

He is the fundamental doctrine of theology.

He is the cornerstone, the capstone, and the stumbling stone of all religion.

He is the miracle of the ages.

He is the key to knowledge. He is wellspring of wisdom. He is the foundation of faith.

He is the doorway of deliverance. He is the pathway to peace. He is the roadway of righteousness.

He is the gateway to glory. He is the highway to happiness. His office is manifold and His promise is sure.

His life is matchless and His goodness is limitless. His mercy is enough and His grace is sufficient.

His reign is righteous, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

He is indestructible. He is indescribable. He is incomprehensible. 

He is invincible. He is irresistible. He is irrefutable.

I can’t get Him out of my mind and I can’t get Him out of my heart.

I can’t outlive Him and I can’t live without Him.

The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him but found they couldn’t stop Him.

Satan tried to tempt Him but found He couldn’t trip Him.

Pilate placed Him on trial but found no fault in Him.

The  Romans crucified Him but  couldn’t take His life. 

Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him.

He is the Lion and He is the Lamb. He is God and He is Man.

He’s the seven-way King:

He is the King of the Jews…that’s a racial King.

He is the King of Israel…That’s a national King.

He is the King of righteousness…that’s a moral King.

He is the King of the ages…That’s an eternal King.

He is the King of heaven…that’s a universal King.

He is the King of glory…that’s a celestial King.

No means of measure can define His limitless love.

No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shore-less supply.

No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings…

He forgives and He forgets. He creates and He cleanses. He restores and He rebuilds.

He heals and He helps. He reconciles and He redeems. He comforts and He carries. He lifts and He loves.

He is the God of the second chance, the fat chance, the slim chance, the no-chance.

He discharges debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young.

He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent. He beautifies the meek.

He guards the young. He seeks the stray. He finds the lost. He guides the faithful. He rights the wronged.

He avenges the abused. He defends the weak. He comforts the oppressed. He welcomes the prodigal.

He heals the sick. He cleanses the dirty. He beautifies the barren. He restores the failure. He mends the broken.

He blesses the poor. He fills the empty. He clothes the naked. He satisfies the hungry.

He elevates the humble. He forgives the sinner. He raises the dead!

He supplies strength to the weary. He increases power to the faint. He offers escape to the tempted.

He sympathizes with the hurting. He saves the hopeless. He shields the helpless. He sustains the homeless.

He gives purpose to the aimless., reason to the meaningless, fulfillment to the emptiness, light in the darkness, comfort in the loneliness, fruit in the barrenness, future to the hopeless. life to the lifeless! –(pp. 43-50)

When I finished reading that, I felt like time had stopped as I just sat in the glorious Presence of Jesus, soaking in all of His beauty and magnificence.

He is everything.  

He makes all things beautiful and because He lives, He will always transform the ugly into the beautiful if we invite Him into those places.

That moment opened up the floodgates. Everywhere I looked, I saw the gifts Jesus had lovingly placed along my path…right there in the midst of the ugly. Nothing had necessarily changed in my situation, but my perspective had shifted entirely.

Please don’t be afraid to ask Him to do the same for you today. He will be faithful to do it.

By the way, Anne adapted those words from S. M. Lockridge, who originally shared it. Here’s a video of “That’s My King” with the original words spoken by Lockridge. Enjoy and be blessed.

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3 Comments

Filed under Devotions

3 responses to “The Beautiful in the Ugly

  1. margaret

    I always wanted a copy of that! Thank you! :o)

  2. Jackie

    Packed with Truth, I never tire of “That’s my King”. Glad it is on the blog so I can access it as often as I need.

  3. JoLynn

    Thank you for taking the time to write so clearly and eloquently, Susan. You use the gifts God has given you to glorify Him. Praise the Lord. The excerpt from A.G. Lotz is evidence of how complete and perfect God’s inspired Word is. Jesus is so much, and everything we need. Thank you for blessing me today!

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