by Abigail Vergeer
If a riverbed is dry, I can see its jagged rocks, unsteady floor, and dry emptiness.
If that same riverbed is full and flowing with water, I don’t even notice the riverbed. Instead, I see the cool and refreshing water, and it usually makes me peaceful…or thirsty!
I’d like to share a story with you about a girl whose riverbed is full of living water. This story is all about beauty, and not just any beauty, but true beauty that pleases God and lasts for eternity. This is the beauty from within that also shows on the outside. It’s the beauty that the familiar verse in 1 Peter talks about:
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
(1 Peter 3:3-4)
While traveling this fall, my family and I visited a delightful church in Idaho. Perhaps you can relate when I tell you that for me, meeting new people is exciting, yes, but always scary. I had been anticipating the visit to this unfamiliar church with some eagerness and lots of prayer. Contrary to my fears, however, I was warmly greeted by a young lady who came up to me with the warmest smile. She didn’t seem particularly outgoing or bold, but here she was coming to ensure I was comfortable in this unfamiliar place. What most impacted me is that she so radiated Jesus’ love that I barely even noticed what she looked like! More than her appearance, I remember how sweet her smile was and what a selfless, loving attitude she displayed.
Shortly after meeting this girl, I found similarities between her and the story in 1 Samuel 16 where God chooses the future king of Israel. The Bible says that Samuel, the prophet, saw Eliab, the oldest son of Jesse, and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before [me].” But God said,
“Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
After God refused each of David’s seven brothers, Samuel asked if there were any more sons, and when Jesse called David out of the field, God said, “…this is he,” and David, ruddy, bright-eyed, and good-looking was anointed as king.
While reading this story, I found it interesting that just a few verses after giving a lesson about appearances, God selects the “good-looking” David as king. This reminded me that although my appearance is wonderfully designed by God, it is not as important as what’s in my heart.
What beauty does Christ treasure and delight in?
A meek and quiet heart (1 Peter 3:3-4)
A meek heart trusts, and a trusting heart is a heart at peace in Jesus and His perfect plans. The quiet soul waits on the Lord from Whom all things come. Beautiful is the woman who lives in the strength of meek obedience to Jesus as her heart surrenders quietly to all He has in store. Sisters, seek His face and He shall not hide from you. For our hearts to truly rest, we must know Who they are resting in. See our great God in His holy Word and how His hands lovingly lead His people. Then lay your heart with all its hopes, dreams, and brokenness in those hands. And watch Him do great and mighty things (Luke 1:49).
A reverent heart (Proverbs 31:30)
The woman who’s heart fears the Lord, she shall be praised! Again, to fear God, we have to know something of Who He is. Who is He that we ought to be consumed with holy reverence in His Presence? Every book, chapter, and verse in Scripture is precious, but let me ask: which do you find your heart drawn to first? Those that speak to what God can do for you or those that tell you something of Who He is?
This may be a revealing question to ask yourself…as it was for me. Perhaps your answer is something like mine, recognizing that His nature is in truth seen (at least in part) in what He does for His people. Just don’t lose sight of His character as seen through His actions! If we do so, we are found wanting so much of that awe-struck wonder that brings us to our knees with bowed heads. So let us seek out verses and passages that highlight the attributes of God and meditate upon them, lifting our hearts and minds in praise.
“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
A heart that rises up to experience GOD (Song of Solomon 2:10)
This verse in Song of Solomon can be so beautifully applied to all who love Christ. He says to us, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Do we “come away” with Him? Do we dare to experience God in our day to day…walking with Him? “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me…for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Understanding and knowing here have the meaning of “to have insight into” or “to ponder.” This is not an understanding gained simply by the words of men from pulpits or books. This knowledge is not attained by being raised in a Christian home (though you may “know” the law and the prophets). This is an insight into and pondering of the nature and character of God. It is something we all need more of in our lives in order that we might rise up and follow without reserve. It is she who gives all of herself that is truly the most beautiful because she is consumed with a Christ-like eternal glory that penetrates every kind of temporal beauty. Join me in rising up and following after Jesus with all of our heart!
A young missionary by the name of William Borden once wrote,
“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”
May that be your heart and mine!
Sisters, let me share two very grave traps and how these can be avoided.
Idolatry of our temporary form and face and figure and how to “perfect” that outer self can be a temptation when our hearts and focus are not in the right place. Martha Peace put it very well when she said,
“You know beauty has become an idol when the exterior adorning brings glory to your body instead of to God.”
Are you dwelling on heavenly things? God loves what is beautiful, and we are made in His image. So it is desirable to look our best and to care for this “outer man” He has given for the time being, but let us be sure to bring all glory to God on high. We do this best when we turn our minds to those things that are above.
Comparison does nothing for the soul but to discourage and disappoint. Our Father in heaven intricately designs each and every person as He sees fit… and as He sees as the most beautiful. Each daughter of the King wears the smile, the hair, the body He intends as being precious and unique to that daughter. Treasure what He treasures while living in gratitude for His special thought and attention as He formed you.
I have learned to pray these lines from Abigail Miller’s song, “Glorify Yourself in Me”:
O, let my face be hidden, my talents be unknown
If only that the love of Jesus Christ be shown!
Let Christ be all that others see!
The more time we spend with Jesus, the more Jesus is seen in us.
This is true and lasting Christ-like beauty. And it is this beauty that reflects the glory of Jesus Himself… will you join me, dear ladies, in pursuing that life-altering glory?
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