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April 12, 2016

Beauty Begins: A Beauty that Never Ends

by Chris Shook and Megan Shook Alpha 

“Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.”  Psalm 145:4 (MSG)

This verse from Psalms tells us two things.  First, we are encouraged to tell the next generation about God’s mighty acts.  It’s a practice that inspires awe and praise in those who hear.  Second, the ways in which God has intervened in and redeemed your story need to be told; it’s what people used to refer to as a personal testimony.

Maybe you’re thinking, You don’t know my story. It’s full of bad characters and loose ends.  Maybe you’re waiting till you get your act together so you’ll have something worth sharing.  Did you forget that a great story is never predictable and perfect?  Who’d want to read that?  Every great story is, at the heart, a story of overcoming.  Make no mistake. God is writing your story, even this very minute. The Master Storyteller chose what decade you’d be born in, what country you’d live in, and who your parents would be.

The trouble is that we spend most of our years wishing we weren’t in them. As teenagers we want to look, act, and have the privileges that come with being twenty-something.  When we’re in our twenties, we realize that being of working age brings with it a lot of responsibility – brutal college exams, job searches, long workdays, housing and utility bills, and car payments. Who asked for this? We’re now the target of huge ad campaigns for clothes and accessories, but it’s so stressful to have to pay for it all!  So, we set our eyes on the next decade, hoping we’ll morph into a success.  By the time we’re in our thirties and forties, most of us long for those carefree years of our teens and twenties.  With stretch marks and the first gray hairs comes the struggle to look young again.  As our wrinkles deepen in our fifties and sixties, we realize we have a condition that nothing on this earth can fix – namely, bodies that are wearing out like old clothes.

But, here’s the good news. You are not your body!  Your body is just an earth suit, a container for your spirit, the real you.  What time and experience do to our outsides is irrelevant. It’s how time and experience affect our insides that counts. The truth is that beauty is abundant in every stage of life.  And, God is writing your story in each stage. It’s the story of His sacred reflection that offers hope and healing for generations to come.

Here’s the truth: as we get older, the physical is stripped away, exposing more of who we really are. It’s a sobering thought. Whatever spirit we’ve nurtured throughout our lives will be revealed more clearly with age. These cocoons we live in will someday become utterly useless. How tragic if we spend our lives painting our cocoons and emerge as withered worms in the end.  To get an accurate picture of who God is and who we are to the next generation, we have to realize that we’re not in a cocoon competition. Let’s encourage one another to boldly embrace whatever age and stage we find ourselves in. We’re in it by design, you know.

It’s not too late.  Your story is still being written. The Master Storyteller is at work. As you lean into the story, everything around you will melt away. Before you know it, you’ll forget the worries and distractions that weigh you down. You’ll forget your surroundings, and soon you’ll even forget yourself, till at last only the story will remain.

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