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« The Problem with North Korea | Main | The bride-to-be and her brand new book »

June 26, 2008

Ramblings from a Bride-to-be on Beauty’s Forgetfulness

Bride_with_bouquet_2 I've been re-reading recently a book that meant a lot to me in college when I journaled through it during my quiet times. It's by the Puritan writer Matthew Henry and is called The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit. Those are things the Scriptures speak highly of, but our present culture would despise.

One of the Scripture passages Henry exposits is the passage from 1 Peter 3:2-4 which says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

Being currently nine days away from getting married, there's a lot of pressure from the wedding-industry machine on beauty. And it's easy to get caught up in it. Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful on your wedding day, but 1 Peter is a great reminder of the self-forgetfulness of beauty. True beauty has a trusting, God-centered spirit. True beauty is yielded to God.  True beauty is found in a person's inner being.

I’ve hardly run across any passage that so illustrates what Peter was describing and the nature of true beauty than this passage I've mentioned once before, from C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. In this fantastic view of the Afterworld, the narrator encounters a true beauty, being followed by an entourage of people. His guide interprets the strange sights:

I cannot now remember whether she was naked or clothed. If she were naked, then it must have been almost visible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. If she were clothed then the illusion of her nakedness is doubtless due to the clarity with which her inmost spirit shone through the clothes. For clothes in this country are not a disguise; the spiritual body lives along each thread and turns them into living organs. A robe or a crown is there as much as one of the wearer’s features as a lip or as an eye.

But I have forgotten and only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it? … is it?" I whispered to my guide.

“Not at all," said he. "It’s someone you’ll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golder’s Green."

“She seems to be … well, a person of particular importance?"

“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on earth are two quite different things?"

“… And who are all these young men and women on each side?"

“They are her sons and daughters."

“She must have had a very large family, Sir."

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son---even if it was only the boy who brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter."

“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?"

“No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a very different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their own parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives."

In this case, it is clear that beauty stems from her being. She is beautifully, forgetfully others-centered. Strangely, she also reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman, of Ruth, of my mom, of my grandmother, of friends, of all of the exotically beautiful kingdom women I have known. And somehow these types all point to the heavenly archetype of Jesus. Oh, to be as beautiful as our self-forgetting Savior. But then this is how we should all be preparing for the great wedding day that is to come when we meet our Savior face to face.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. --Ephesians 5:25-27

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." --Revelation 21:1-4

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Congratulations, felicitations, best wishes and all that! :-)


Congratulations on your new book and marriage!

-Best wishes

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