I’m in the audience, listening to a popular band play their latest record. I’m surrounded by a lot of people that are as excited as I am to be at the feet of the lead singer we paid good money to spend an evening near. I buy a t-shirt, turn my camera back towards myself with the band in the background, and post the picture on Facebook. I’m guessing the post will be around a ten or twelve “comment-er” considering the popularity of the band, most of the comments coming from those who were also at the concert or wanted to be. What is it about the band on stage that creates in us a sense of excitement and connection? I could say it’s the lights, large crowd, or beat, but I know it is something more. We want to be like them or at least have a little taste of the power beaming from their presence.
Then it strikes me that although I am at a concert, I am also in a sense, at a worship service. The music is not religious, per se, but it draws me in and I can’t help but want something to do with its source. I want to drink deeply the glory before my eyes, like I do when I see a beautiful sunset. Interestingly, the band on stage also wants to drink in the same glory that we see in them. They want to drink in the power of the audience, this magnitude of people that are giving them undivided attention and cheers. So, both the band and those of us in the audience want to touch this invisible power, this glory that makes the air electric. But given the fact that this concert will only last for another half hour, we eventually realize that this glory is fleeting, as the reverberations of the concert quickly fade.
To behold glory is to behold the fullest and purest expression of beauty. At our core we know that we both possess and do not possess this beauty in ourselves. As many times as I have been encouraged to see myself as beautiful, I can and can not do so. In the past I may have concluded that it was a self-esteem failure to not be able to see myself full of beauty. But now I am coming to see that my beauty, while present, is simply not complete. While I can enjoy my capacity for beauty in myself and in the wonderful things in life, I can’t experience the perfection of its fullness to the point of completely embodying it. This doesn’t stop me from wanting these partial experiences of the real thing. The real thing is the pure, lasting, and glorious beauty of God. While there are very substantial experiences of beauty here on earth, its fullness is only located in the Creator.
Many of our disappointments in life are in some way related to the realization there is nothing on earth that holds the purity of beauty that God’s very essence is. While wonderful in very substantial ways, our experiences of kindness, peace, and even love are often only momentary. But the good news is that pure kindness, peace, love and beauty exist in God, who loves us greatly. God finds great joy in tending to our hearts by revealing to us the good things that we long for, dose after dose. What hope we have, that one eternal day pure beauty will be fully embodied, fully embraced as we are finally in the presence of God. In the meantime, we can enjoy a good night of music and friendship that gives us a glimpse of the goodness coming our way.
Originally published in the Summer 2011 Converge magazine