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