BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Fifth grade seemed magical. The boys seemed to transform to little men while the girls bloomed into resplendent sunflowers. I was not quite prepared for this awakening but when she sat one desk behind me, I thought I was caught up in the seventh heaven. There was no flaw in her porcelain-glistened skin; her facial symmetry would be Michelangelo’s delight; her speaking voice was that of a siren from a Sri-Lankan depth; her posture was ordained with a royal gait; her eyes were simply azure with a glint of Saturn’s rings; her redolence was a concoction devoid of any mortal whiff; she was a goddess–sent to magnetize my quiescent affections.
Every single day was Disney-flavored. All that was needed was a glimpse towards her shrine. There she was: constantly reciprocating my incessant innuendos. The perceived mutuality of our undefined soiree escalated in my imagination. I hated class dismissals and longed for its initial bell. How can I withstand such an intense call towards destiny?
One afternoon, a silly game of “truth or consequence” was being played. It was her turn to answer a question with hard truth. She was asked “who is your crush … your inspiration … the love of your life?” Of course, my heart palpitated while I carefully eavesdropped upon her sweet disclosure. Surely, my name shall resonate the halls of her heart and listeners.
Opening her floral lips, the words of a name so foreign detonated my heart with fragments so numerous I internally bled unabated. The object of her affection was some guy from the other classroom. I was left with no strength to even reflect upon this holocaust. I shrunk unto a staggered molehill, shaken by the aftershocks of my fleeting foundation.
I was not even ten years old, but it felt like I vaulted to eighty years with a spine that would not hold nor stand firm.
Beauty died as I began breathing like a beast.
A song of ascents.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.
The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel.
But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
Mark 9:27 NIV
The sixth anchor in our syllabus describes the appropriate stance along the highway of faith. As the journey ascends God-ward, we are called to maintain a steadfast posture. We are to stand firm.
To trust in the LORD is portrayed akin to the formidable stability of Mount Zion, whose imposing strength reveals an eternal breadth. The symbolic imagery refers to the centrality of God in the life of faith. The infrastructure of our dependence relies upon the rock-solid stability of our core existence. Our trust is in no one else, but in God.
The encompassing security of God’s care upon his people has been guaranteed “both now and forevermore.” Our flawed vision somehow leads us to dangerous paths. We lay victimized, once over again by the cunning deceitfulness of our own hearts. Our imaginations betray us, both the young and old, as we recoil from being rising stars to plummeting beasts, devoid of any beauty to rescue. We slip and slide through our self-crafted tracks, oftentimes wondering where and how, we missed the right turn. Through the mishaps, we are taken by a deeper surprise, we have been kept standing.
We are admonished to stand firm on the muscularity of God’s loyal love. The strength that surrounds our frailty comes from the established hold of God’s promised covenant. We are hemmed in by his love, forever.
The hounding presence of evil lurks alongside our journey. The unrelenting stratagems of unseen principalities always come in full force. We experience shipwrecks, earthquakes, landslides, and depressions along the way. We get the sense that forces wrestle us beyond our visual recognition. We audit our arsenal and find our bullets inept against the wicked infantry. We cower in seeing the triumph of evil in our land, wondering who might be capable to dislodge the egregious scepter. To this gloom, erupts God’s oath: “the scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous.”
As we choose to stand firm under God’s might, we are providentially tethered with His armor unbeknownst to our enemies. God Himself, fights in our behalf. Through the exquisite warfare, we stand firm, amazed with whose side we’ve been drafted in. The enemies are vanquished indeed!
The hurriedness of the world we live in diametrically opposes the requirement to stand firm. We would rather join the rush, the panic, and the maddening sprint to quell what seems to threaten us. But God calls us to a sacred hush: a divine stillness. We are called to reconsider our posture and as such, turn all our cares to the One who truly cares.
And so we are called to a stance of belief: we stand firm by choosing faith upon faith to claim that Christ does the doing in order for us to maintain our being. We rest by breathing oxygenated trust in all aspects of life by choosing not to conform towards wickedness but to be transformed unto Christ’s goodness. This we do by committing to memory God’s promises: both word and will.
When we stand firm, Peace enters our lives. Not by some manufactured human ideology; not by some perceptive psychology; not by some sophisticated sophistry, but through the grounded reality of sacred geology: our Rock-Mountain fortress shall stand guard over us with his enduring word of peace.
Her name means “beautiful one belonging to God.” She was born with a face lit by the morning sun while clad with a demeanor reflecting the dance of glittering stars. Dress became her imprinted personality. At two years, she knew the elegant runways of vogue. Her speech was loquacious but enchantingly pure. Naturally, she had her first boyfriend at five, a little prince in the neighborhood.
There was always a signature of charm wherever she went. My eldest daughter was an encapsulated bliss, which I incessantly pondered on, wondering what sort of purpose God had for this jewel. Her intellect was organic. Her social rapport was politic. Her spirituality was resonant. There was only one thing that seemed misplaced: a true mirror to remind her of who she really is.
Years of riding on the accolades of one’s genius can somehow take an awkward toll. Her accomplishments have gone too numerous even to recount. Her glories too elaborate to rehearse. And so, the invitations for relationships have gone unabated. Young men have been smitten with much exigency. A few were rewarded for their patience and resiliency. She knew how to love but the oil of affection constantly lacked in luster. One by one, those who sought her endearment died on third base. The explanation for this demise is rather simple, they were all seeking to pursue a rose that seemed devoid of thorns, only to be pricked by the reality of her pedestrian struggles.
One day, love came by swiftly through the enticing hymns of an eastern troubadour. His wealth promised her the galaxies and beyond. My daughter was no match to the ravishing weight of the prince’s offer. When I met him, I was hypnotically mesmerized by his distinctive suave. Finally, a mirror for my child or so I thought.
What took place in the aftermath was horror beyond words. Instead of redemption, there was machination. The deception, which took over our hearts, wrecked the simple foundation of trust I had for decent humans. As I watched the incarceration of my daughter’s soul, I bled with a resolve not to trust in garbs of young men, ever again.
One ordinary day, she came home for a visit while I lay slumbered in bed. She tucked herself close to where I was and whispered, “Dad, you have to pull yourself up from this hole.” I looked up and saw a glow like I’ve never seen before. Her face was lit no longer by some manufactured lumens but with radiance so ethereal.
We had a long chat that afternoon, reviewing the enduring goodness of God and renewing the rekindled peace of loyal redemption.
She recently got engaged to a man of no pretense. His opulence rests upon his wild integrity. He offers none of his own but, all of his Father’s kingdom. His songs are deeply spoken in verses of love, joy and peace. When I met him, he called me Papa.
Their story follows a script written by the original author, ebbing with a heartbeat far deeper than the beloved tales as old as time. For theirs is no tale, but the very life of redemption captured by a mirror truthfully reflective of their Father’s loyal love.