He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
A couple of summers ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in New York City to celebrate my birthday. One afternoon, we found relief from the heat by roaming the halls at the MoMA.
My favorite exhibit that day was Bodys Isek Kingelez’s City Dreams. The entire exhibit room was filled with tangible evidence of Kingelez’s creativity, skill, and hope. He created futuristic cities with things like bottle caps, recycled cardboard, soda cans, and tinfoil. Thousands (or millions) of everyday, inglorious items had been cut apart, reshaped, and glued together again to make something fantastic and new.
We milled about with hundreds of others, shuffling our feet between one display after another. There was a husband and wife arguing about something in their sleeping toddler’s stroller as they waited in line for the virtual reality experience of City Dreams. A young couple stood side by side in silence, taking in whatever bits of communication they could interpret from Kingelez’ work.
I took note of the letters on a toothpaste box turned building. The font revealed another time and place. I imagined Kingelez using toothpaste every day, and wondered where toothpaste was sold in his home country (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, once the Belgian Congo), and how he went about buying it. The details whispered clues about his home, his life, his culture, the oppression of colonization he was born into, the transitions of his country, and the soil his hopes and dreams grew from. I read a sign that said his work was unknown for a long time. I wondered if he ever felt like giving up on the little details he tended to to communicate his dreams.
I so often forget the prophetic beauty that’s found deep in our details. Every fold, each mistake, and the parts that didn’t quite make the cut of our expectations. Can redemption reach the crumpled pieces that land in the trash bin?
We marvel at a finished work of art. We pay to witness and experience it. We see the way a finished piece glints and glimmers and the way the pieces fit together. We crave the security of smoothed edges and happy endings, but in reality, life never looks or feels that way.
Christmas is just a few days away, and this time of year can make me that much more frantic to grasp for evidence of redemption at work that’s fit for display. But I’m reminded that the things I’m longing for don’t always look so obvious upon arrival. They come as glimpses of shalom, small homecomings found while we are still trembling and not without trial. They squeeze in between the unfinished laundry, my regrets, the ache I feel for lost connections and distance between those I love. They surprise us for a moment during our unremarkable dinners and our evening routines. I easily forget these moments while spending too many minutes wondering why certain things have turned out the way they have, how someone I love can struggle as much as they do, and why illness and pain rip through our family trees, leaving so many branches without leaves. I easily discard the evidence of resurrection at work, gluing everything back together again, mixing my unraveled strings of hope into its sticky strands. Our Emmanuel stays articulate in our details.
Discarded toothpaste boxes aren’t immune to being redeemed into dreams come true.
Neither are the details in you.
He is at work, making all things beautiful and new, no matter what things look or feel like this Christmas.
May you experience the wonder of the ultimate Artist, Jesus, in every detail this season. Receive the unfinished work you’re surrounded by with gentle patience. String the details of all you’ve been given around your heart with thanks, like lights on a Christmas tree. Our Emmanuel is here, tenderly holding and building something beautiful but not-yet, and He will redeem every single one of your details. What’s to come will be more than any of us could ever dream or hope for.
He is at work, making all things beautiful and new, no matter what things look or feel like this Christmas. -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I love this…” Receive the unfinished work you’re surrounded by with gentle patience. String the details of all you’ve been given around your heart with thanks, like lights on a Christmas tree. ” Lord, let me receive what you’ve so mercifully given me with gratitude and patience. So many pieces of my story remain unfinished or disjointed. Help me to be thankful for what “is” and not focus on what “isn’t” this Christmas; knowing that in due time, you will redeem it all.
Yes ! Me too!
Thank you, Bev. And yes, I feel that disjointed, unfinished weight, too. We are all in this together, waiting, sometimes groaning, and believing. We are not alone.
Michele Morin says
Christmas is the perfect time to look back on our own stories. I want to remember the glue with gratitude.
Amen. Me too, Michele.
Becky Lowmaster says
This quite the story. I enjoyed reading this early morning since I can’t go back to sleep. Read the Bible…Luke. Looked to see what’s good to read on my phone. No FB. Yes ….God has a plan for us and thankful he’s walking with us through all highs and lows. I enjoy this beautiful world He created, even on cloudy days driving to visit my brother…..it’s beautiful. USA flags waving in the breeze. Bill board that was by a business that read God bless you and your family in this holiday season. Eyes wide open while driving and singing Christmas music while Klove radio on in car. Thanking God. Creativity in the carousel I took my brother to. Old ones. New ones being created…carousel creatures. Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and family, Tasha!!
I’m so sorry you couldn’t sleep. Thank you for the list of things you’re thankful for. Keep stringing that light.
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Thank you Tasha for beautifully writing this message of faith. I’m in a time of grieving and the idea of having merriment right now eludes me. I’m clinging to my faith,sometimes grasping at it so strongly , I will notice my hands clenched,white knuckled in prayer. I also feel guilty because there are some wonderful possibilities opening up for me,so I should be rejoicing in that. But if I’m rejoicing, shouldn’t I be grieving? My emotions love to play this ping pong match with my heart. I have been trying to think about how my loved ones would have reacted to these future possibilities and that makes me smile. So I’m hopeful when I recognize the joy in these fleeting moments. Your post reminds me that Jesus and joy are always with me and working towards something beyond what I could ever hope for or imagine. Wishing you,your family, and all your followers a joyous ,blessed Christmas season and a peaceful New Year! ❤
Carol Leonard says
I’m praying that the Father surrounds you with His peace that passes understanding. He is bringing to you new beginnings, new dreams, fresh hope! He truly makes all things new! Hugs to you sweet sister!
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Thank you so much for your kind words of comfort. Keeping you in my prayers. Sending hugs back ❤
I so often think I cannot be grateful or joyful if I have grief. That’s not true. And grief needs it’s space. Praying for that space for you. Praying for comfort and that Jesus’ nearness reminds you that he knows grief. He does not rush us out of it. He comes near and shelters your tenderness with his wings. Holding you in prayer, Kathleen!!
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Tasha, thank you so much. Your words of faith and friendship feels like a warm hug . Praying you and your family have a joyous Christmas season ❤
Beth Williams says
Praying for you now sweet sister. Grieving is never easy-especially at the holidays. People always seem cheerful & happy. Grieving & rejoicing can be mixed together. Everyone grieves in their own way & time. Take time to grieve the loss. Remember fond memories & good times. Rejoice a little in the possibilities God is bringing your way. He is making beauty from ashes. Giving you something new for the old. Don’t feel bad about grieving, but give yourself permission to smile & think about the new God is giving you. Holding you in prayer during this hard time.
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Thank you so very much, Beth. Your compassionate words truly comfort me and inspires me. Praying you and your family have a joyous Christmas season ❤
DONNA Jean KNOBLOCK says
thi Is so beautiful and spoke directly to my heart. As I sit on the edge of my bed in tears, I am encouraged. Lord help me today to see the bigger picture ❤️
Donna, thank you so much. Saying a prayer for your heart.
M @ In Beautiful Chaos says
Beautiful! Ecclesiastes 3:11 is a verse that always seems to follow me around! So often the process is the last place we want to be, but we could never see the finished work without going through that process. Blessings to you and your family!
M @ In Beautiful Chaos
Yes, I believe it. Thank you!!
Michelle Stiffler says
Tasha, I certainly understand praying for shalom finishes, and asking the Lord to redeem what seems wasted. Hopes realized are only seen with His kind of sight. I ask to see things His way more and more often. I know you do, too. Keep on and thank you
Yes, that’s a good prayer. Thank you, Michelle.
Ronda Barber says
Thank you Tasha!!!
“…how someone I love can struggle as much as they do, and why illness and pain rip through our family trees, leaving so many branches without leaves.” 2019 has been a rough one , indeed. I needed this reminder today. My middle daughter has been struggling so intently with depression and anxiety and my father in law has Alzheimer’s. He recently suffered a stroke, as well. It’s so easy to get “bogged down”. Thank you for reminding me that: “ He is at work, making all things beautiful and new, no matter what things look or feel like this Christmas.”
Blessings and Peace to you and yours!
Rhonda, I’m sorry for the hard things that are happening around you. Those are heavy. Praying for Jesus’ nearness to be evident and his comfort tangible and real.
Beth Williams says
Grief & happiness can mix. Jesus grieved the loss of Lazarus & yet rejoiced at the same time about his Lazarus’s return from the grave. God is constantly at work making things new. After the winter snows you start to see sprouts of flowers peering through the ground. What was once thought dead is now coming back to life. No matter how you’re feeling this Christmas just know hope is around the corner. There is a new year to look forward to. New beginnings & God will be with you the whole journey. Take time now to look at the beauty surrounding you. See the snow covered mountains, Christmas lights, revel in the beauty of Jesus leaving Heaven for you, rejoice in your health. Give God the praise for making ALL things new!
Happy New Year, Beth!
Bomi Jolly - JollyNotes.com says
“May you experience the wonder of the ultimate Artist, Jesus, in every detail this season. Receive the unfinished work you’re surrounded by with gentle patience. String the details of all you’ve been given around your heart with thanks, like lights on a Christmas tree. Our Emmanuel is here, tenderly holding and building something beautiful but not-yet, and He will redeem every single one of your details. What’s to come will be more than any of us could ever dream or hope for.” – AMEN! Thank you so much for sharing, Tasha!:) God bless you and your beautiful family this season and beyond!
Thank you, Bomi! Happy New a Year!