i looked up from the kitchen sink this morning just in time to see, out the window facing East, a most glorious sunrise.
The low lying clouds were a blanket just hovering over the horizon, and a small window of sky was visible between the bottom of the cloud cover and the ground. The cloud blanket was a gorgeous mixture of hot pink, red, and orange.
It was, truly, breathtaking.
And in that moment i remembered the importance of looking up and out. The importance of not losing sight of the larger story and the big picture. The scene was an invitation to beauty.
O how i needed it.
The Presence of Beauty and the Reality of Battle are inextricably linked and they are always with us. There is a tension of sorts between them: when Beauty is being expressed, the Battle is not far away; and when the Battle rages, Beauty is closer at hand than it seems.
An intentional warrior embraces both the Presence of Beauty and the Reality of Battle. The journey of growing in warrior identity, fighting for a free heart, and finding healing for our sexuality travels along a path that is well acquainted with both Beauty and Battle.
Beauty reminds us that the battle is not all that there is. It reminds us that the stunning hope of the Kingdom, of all things being made new, awaits us. Beauty connects us again and again to the deeper, larger story of restoration that God is writing.
Battle itself is also a reminder. It is a reminder that we live in a time when full restoration has not come; a time when the Enemy still seeks to steal, kill, and destroy — and he has power to do those very things. And it is a reminder that our warrior nature is needed at this time.
Battle reminds us that everything good in this life — especially Beauty — must be fought for.
The tension is a friend.
This seems, for some, a strange post on a day so close to Christmas. Where is the hope, the joy, the good cheer? Where are the reflections on the wonder of Immanuel, God with us? Why not a post about how, when dealing with recovery from porn addiction and compulsive sexual behavior, the promise of Christ leads us to freedom?
Those are good and fair questions. i am all in favor of hope, joy, good cheer, wonder, Immanuel, the promise of Christ, and freedom.
i am at the same time also very aware of something that was occurring in the spiritual dimension during Christ’s birth which adds richness to the story, yet isn’t something that fits well on a Christmas card.
The unseen spiritual dimension of Christmas is depicted for us in Revelation 12.
In that chapter we read the prophetic vision of the spiritual reality surrounding Christ’s coming. A dragon, representing Satan, seeks to devour a child who is “to rule the nations.”
The dragon lies in wait to take the baby, but fails.
The mother and child flee to the wilderness. There is war in heaven. The dragon and his followers are cast out, and he then goes off to make war with the rest of the woman’s children.
What John shows us in this vision is that the coming of Christ involved great battle. The Enemy fought to stop the invasion of the Kingdom. As a result of his failure to prevent Christ’s birth, the Enemy wages war.
That Battle continues. We live in that reality.
At the the same time, the Beauty is present. Embodied in Christmas, at the very heart of Advent, we have the Presence of Beauty and the Reality of Battle. The vision in Revelation is a glimpse behind the veil of the physical world into the larger spiritual aspects of the essence of Christmas.
The Battle is not what normally comes to mind at this time of year. Many people will have a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas season without one moment of strife, or one thought of a battle of any kind whatsoever.
For others, there will be battles involved in the build up to, the celebration of, and the recovery from the holidays.
Regardless, the Presence of Beauty and the Reality of Battle will be at play throughout the holidays. In some ways they will be intensified.
When Beauty is being expressed, the Battle is not far away; and when the Battle rages, Beauty is closer at hand than it seems.