Recently I was driving home from the grocery store. As I rounded the corner, I was stopped in my tracks by real beauty. I had to pull the car over because I was looking at the most amazing sunset I had ever seen in my life. It was absolutely stunning with every color you can imagine — oranges and yellows, pinks, purples, and blues. It was so incredible I just sat there in awe taking it all in. Immediately I thought: Anybody in the entire world who saw this sunset would do what I’m doing — watching with wonder and amazement. In any country, in any culture, at any age, any person on the planet would recognize the beauty of the sunset.
Why is that? Why in different cultures do we find different things to be pretty, and yet something about raw, wild beauty transcends our differences?
As I watched that sunset, it hit me. I saw it so clearly that for a brief moment it was as if I was no longer looking through the distorted mirror of our culture. I realized that real beauty begins with God. Therefore, something is beautiful because it has God’s fingerprints all over it. I couldn’t look at the brilliantly colored canvas of that evening sky without seeing the hand of the Master Artist who painted it.
If you walk through an art museum and see the beautiful paintings of the masters like Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Michelangelo, you wouldn’t think, I guess someone spilled a bucket of paint on that canvas. No, you would immediately recognize that it was painted by a master artist. The fingerprints of the master artist are all over it. That’s what it was like when I looked at that sunset. In all our lives there are moments when we catch a glimpse of raw, real beauty. It’s like a door that’s slightly open, allowing bright light to come through. We see a little crack of light, and for a second we remember what beautiful really is.
We remember what we were created for. We remember that the One who created that sunset also created you and me. We remember that we are beautiful. Then we forget again. We forget who created us. We forget whom we are trying to please. We forget what real beauty is.
Do you believe God sees you as beautiful? You’ll begin to feel beautiful when you start believing the truth that the Master Artist beautifully created you. Imagine a famous painter, some fiery Italian known for his impeccably high standards. Imagine the artist has been working on a particular canvas for years. The rumor around town is that this project will be his magnum opus, his great work. You know that a creative work that’s worth anything demands the artist pour himself fully into the work. You consider all the planning and effort, the sleepless nights and grueling days that have gone into this special creation.
Finally one day a child runs through the streets of town shouting, “It is finished! It is finished!” Everyone heads toward the artist’s house for the grand unveiling. But before the crowd gets a chance to see it, the artist steps back from the canvas to make his personal critique first. He stands there almost spellbound, taking in every color, every brush stroke, every nuance of shade and texture — everything.
A tear comes to his eye as his mouth breaks into a smile, and he speaks aloud only two words:
“Molto bello!” Very beautiful!
Something similar happened in Genesis when God unveiled His greatest creation. Far from a cold, distant watchmaker who turned a key and set everything in motion, God, as He is described in Genesis, is a very personal God who went to great pains to speak into existence and to fashion all that is, including us. When He was finished, He was infinitely pleased with the outcome. In fact, He was so pleased that He decided to stop. Nothing more was needed. No more tweaks or revisions. The Master Artist created you and said, “You are beautiful, my child!”
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Chris Shook is the co-author (with her husband, Kerry) of two New York Times bestsellers, One Month to Live and Be the Message. Together, they founded Fellowship of The Woodlands, now Woodlands Church, in 1993 right outside of Houston, TX. The church started in their home with a congregation of eight people, and since then, it has become a multi-site church with over 18,000 in average attendance every weekend. Megan Shook Alpha, Chris’ daughter, is a graduate of Baylor University and now works as the student missions pastor at Woodlands Church.