Surprised by Beauty


“The Spirit’s work of illumination takes what someone knows and shows it to be beautiful so that the heart of the person is drawn out in love and devotion to the beauty perceived. If the person fails to see the beauty, no amount of convincing can help.” pg 48

“It is impossible to argue someone, or even yourself, into grasping something as beautiful that they see as ugliness (or foolishness, like the cross: 1 Cor 1:23-25). God’s giving of the Spirit paves the way for God to be known.” pg 51

These are thoughts from the book I’m currently reading  If it wasn’t frowned upon (and against the law), I would share the entire second chapter of the book with you. 🙂  This chapter is all about the beauty of God. The book, by Kyle Strobel, is called Formed for the Glory of God- Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards. You may want to add this one to your reading list.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared this quote from the book. “Spiritual formation, Edwards tells us, is about learning a song we will sing for eternity.” If you missed that post, you can read it HERE  

This particular chapter on beauty fires me up. As I’ve shared with you many, many times before, when Jesus captures our hearts it will lead to some place beautiful.


A few weeks ago, I had to put my 18-year-old dog to sleep. She was in kidney failure and her quality of life was to the point where I just knew the most loving thing I could do was to make her last memories happy ones. Her all-time favorite thing to do was to eat…more than walks, more than tummy rubs, food was truly the way to this pup’s heart. Right before taking her to the vet’s office, I bought her a cheeseburger and some french fries. Over the last few years, I’ve had to stay away from feeding her anything but her normal diet, her senior digestive system had a hard time tolerating any sudden changes in diet. So, as you can imagine, she enthusiastically gobbled down the greasy forbidden goodness.

And then I said good-bye.

Seventeen years is a long time to have a four-legged friend by your side.


Last week, I emailed and texted back and forth with our nearby Humane Society. My family and I wanted to get the dog we still had another companion.  Last Friday night, the lady from the Humane Society sent me pictures of animals recently rescued from the pound. We made plans to visit the following day to see if any of them would be a good match for our current dog. From the pictures sent, my son and I initially leaned more towards two out of the four choices.

And then we met the dogs.

When we had the opportunity to interact with these pups in person, a funny thing happened, we ended up being drawn to the last dog of the 4 options we were given. Once we had the opportunity to interact with him, once we discovered how gentle and loving he was, we knew.  Beethoven (the name the pound gave him) found his home with us.


This may seem strange to some, but I thought about how this all played out as I read those original “beauty” quotes I shared with you at the beginning of this post.

Perceiving something as beautiful takes a level of interaction, relationship and communication.  You can look at pictures and words but unless there’s a connection it won’t be anything but pictures and words.  I love how Strobel puts it in the concluding paragraph of chapter 2. “To know God as beautiful, one must know God and love Him personally. This kind of knowledge is not knowledge of an object, but knowledge of a subject.” (Page 53)

A few other thoughts came to mind as I was thinking about beauty.

Sometimes it surprises us.  We have one idea of what it should look like and God opens our eyes to beauty on a whole different level.

Sometimes it’s not discovered along the most obvious route.  Instead, it’s through the narrow gate, over the highest mountain, or across miles of desert.

Sometimes it’s not the most popular choice. It’s the thief on the cross, the widow in a synagogue, the prostitute in a room full pharisees, or the scrawniest shepherd boy in the family.

Lord, keep opening our eyes.  Keep showing us Your beauty. 

He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! (Psalm 18:19 Message)

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