My precious daughters,
Once upon a time, there were two kingdoms. In the first kingdom, everyone was smiling. Everyone was beautiful. They strolled with an air of freedom, but they secretly cried in dark corners. Their King was hidden from their eyes.
A ruthless prince whispered into their hearts and enslaved them. To the women, he said, “Do you want to be beautiful? Do you want to be loved? You will only be happy if you look like her — the one smiling in the advertisements. Mask your sorrow. Hide your pain. Boost your cleavage. Expose your legs. Do not let your inside out. No one wants to see who you really are.” To the men, he says, “Yes. Anyone. Anytime.”
That kingdom is the world you were born into — a kingdom of darkness. I stare into your eyes and I tremble. I weep. A dark cloud hangs over your present and future. I desperately reach for the same peace I see in your innocent and naïve eyes. I already struggle to dress you at four and two in this outward-focused, inward-hidden kingdom. Bows? Ruffles? Sparkles? Sequins? How should I dress you? How should I dress myself?
As I contemplate beauty, I recall the woman of Proverbs 31. She is wise, kind, well-regarded, and fearless of the future (Proverbs 31:10–30). The Proverbs 31 woman is certainly beautiful. But do you know who is even more beautiful than her?
His bloodstained brow. His nail-scarred hands and feet. His blood that stained the rough, wooden cross to which he bound himself. What is more beautiful than a voluntary death for enemies (Romans 5:8; John 15:13)?
He walked among the unclean. He dined with tax collectors and sinners. He grew up “like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). His works are beautiful. He speaks words of eternal life (John 6:68).
The train of his robe fills the earth; he is an immortal King sitting on an unshakable throne. The whole earth is filled with his glory (Isaiah 6:1–3).
Your lives display his glory. I hear his eternal laughter echo when you laugh. I see his tears when you cry. I hear his blood spattered on the ground beneath his bound body when you spill your drink. I feel his loving, compassionate, and powerful gaze in your eyes when they glisten with wonder. I see his face bearing a kind, fierce smile as you bang on the piano and belt out your favorite hymns.
Do you see what is beautiful about you? It is the one who made you, the one who died for you. It is true that people look on the outward appearance and God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), but God searches our hearts for the beautiful person of Jesus and his finished work. You are beautiful to God because of him.
So, what do we put on?
Put on Christ (Romans 13:14). Put on the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53), the “new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Put him on as he put you on (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are his nails. We are his crown of thorns. We are his bloodied and beaten body.
When you see our world’s darkness, look to Jesus. He himself is beauty, and the world cannot take him away from you. We can love him even though we cannot see him now. “Believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Behold our beautiful God. We can look at good and evil in our world and worship Jesus in it all.
Beauty Yet to Come
Do you wonder about the longing in your hearts? A second kingdom calls your name. God has put eternity into your hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), the beauty yet to come. Clapping. Laughter “like a thousand waterfalls” (The Jesus Storybook Bible). Worship. A beautiful heaven, gold-paved streets. Bejeweled walls and wide-open gates. A river like crystal. No more death, sadness, or pain. Ever. No need for the sun or moon because of the glorious light of our King, seated on his glorious throne (Revelation 21–22). He is there. Invisible now, but visible forever.
You ask me if you will be able to hug him. Yes, you will. It will be the best hug you ever experience. Unending. I long to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. But not yet, girls. Remember who is True Beauty, and long for his full display in a day to come. Soon and very soon.
I love you, but Jesus loves you most,