A thirst resides deep within the heart of man, a longing for beauty—the fresh colors of spring, blue lazy rivers, white cascading waterfalls, crystal raindrops dancing on clear windowpanes, and spectacular rainbows of promise.
We are captured by soft-skinned babies, wide-eyed youth, and weathered smiles of the aged—masterful paintings and serenading songbirds.
John Eldredge suggests in his book “The Sacred Romance,” that beauty extends to us a heavenly calling of things to come. It beckons us heavenward and allows us a taste of heaven’s glory.
After holding a series of meetings in Scotland, our host took my co-worker, Judy, and me on a day sabbatical—an hour and a half drive into the Scottish countryside to Fyvie Castle.
This old castle, unlike the cold, dank atmosphere of other castles I had visited, was warm and inviting, lavishly furnished, and filled with light. One room—the Gallery—caught my attention. I imagined the sounds in years past of rustling petticoats under floor-length gowns, the clickity-click of men’s buckle boots on lovely inlaid floors, and music hosted by the lord of the castle and his wife, who warmly welcomed all who came to the frequent concerts.
Alone and feeling quite small standing in the middle of that great room, I gazed upward in amazement at the geometric acoustical ceiling, the huge wall tapestries that were indeed works of art, the majestic self-playing pipe organ towering and filling one end of the room, and, as the centerpiece, the museum quality five-hundred-year-old grand piano.
Suddenly, the silence was shattered. . .“Can she play that piano?”
I whirled around to see Judy pointing directly at me. Before I could protest and silence my companion, the room attendant answered, “Yes, of course.”
“I can’t play piano, Judy,” I blurted out!
I could play certain songs—that is with words and written chords—but not well. I mostly sat at the piano during my quiet times with the Lord, but never in public. Besides, who was I to strike the keys of such a fine instrument? I was embarrassed at being put on the spot and not a little put out with Judy. Knowing that my fingers fall over themselves when I am nervous, I worried that other tourists might come into the room.
Sensing my frustration with her, yet persisting, Judy said, “Just sit down, Terry, and play.”
Surprising even to me, I sat down on the piano stool like a disgruntled child and began obediently to play.
My fingers touched the keys, hesitantly at first, then gradually gained confidence, and as if with wings, flew effortlessly across the keyboard. I was a reluctant participant in a song of breath-taking beauty and soaring worship. I was lost in a melody I had only heard but had never played. As the music rose from the strings of this treasured instrument of antiquity, the sound of it swelled and swirled around me, wrapping me as if in divine arms. I felt lifted from earthly restraints to heavenly freedom in ascending worship of the Unseen, yet very Present God.
He was with me—and in me—working through me—filling me. His nearness was overwhelming. I ran from the room, passing the previously unnoticed small crowd that had gathered to listen. My heart was full. Tears of inexplicable joy streamed down my cheeks as I sought a solitary refuge with Him.
God’s love in that moment was transcendent; and for a few brief moments it seemed heaven and earth united with my Father and I being one. There is no explaining my experience any more than we can explain Jesus’ resurrected presence with Mary in the Garden after his burial. We have a multitude of examples, written and unwritten, of God loving man and making Himself known to him. Is this so surprising when we recall his promise to be with his people always? Is it not also written that when we come close to God, He will come close to us? In fact, haven’t there been moments in worship and in prayer when He draws so near that we can fairly feel His breath upon our cheeks?
God has ordained intimate fellowship with His beloved. All creation declares His glory. With beauty He surrounds us. He offers us glimpses of His beauty, draws us nearer to his heart, whispers His love, and reminds us of His promise to come.
God sets beauty in our hearts. We, my friends, are invited to bask in His sweet, abiding Presence—now and for all eternity. The Apostle Paul assures us that even though we view God now as if we were looking through a dirty pane of glass, there will come a day, dear daughters of the Most High, when we will see Him clearly—face to face in all of His glory.
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:20-21 (ESV)
“...but then, face to face...” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
Terry Magness is author, speaker, and founder of Grace Harbour Ministries, a Biblically based teaching and discipleship ministry to the nations. Terry is passionate in helping people to know God and the hope, healing, and power He offers for overcoming the challenges to victorious Spirit-filled living through Jesus Christ. As an ordained Assembly of God minister, Terry is called to undergird, encourage, and empower the church and its leaders. Her years in Biblical study, pastoral counseling, and more recently, coaching, have equipped her for this unique role.
Terry enjoys writing, photography, art, and fishing with her husband, Don. They share with joy two adult children, Greg and Valarie, and three beautiful granddaughters.
by Kelly Godzwa
“That’s a loaded question!” I replied, reaching for a desk lamp to bring a little more light to our Monday morning Zoom meeting. Glancing at my husband seated next to me, I was puzzled by his questioning look as he also replied, but with much better poise, “Fine, doing well.”
Why did I react so strongly to the question of greeting this morning? Initially, it may have been that I wasn’t fine. My eyes were extremely itchy. Something in the environment was causing an allergic reaction. Or could it be that my calendar for the day had events and reminders scattered closely together from 6 AM to 8:30 PM? First day of college for our youngest? Our daughter’s car in the shop?
When someone asks how I am, I realize it isn’t always the time or place to be completely honest or revealing. Sometimes, it’s just a greeting, a cordial question we use to say “hello.” That day, however, I was thankful for the opportunity to answer honestly, even if I did not unpack in that moment what it really meant. That would come out a little more, later, in another Zoom meeting where there was more time and freedom to express some underlying thoughts and feelings.
So, while we’re here, let’s talk about the last several weeks. I turned forty-seven, celebrating the day with my son’s request to also celebrate his high school graduation at an amusement park along with my husband, his dad. He’s our youngest of three. Then we helped set up for and attended a week-long event with our colleagues—interfacing with old friends, talking about where we’ve been, who we’ve become, and what we’re currently experiencing. Some conversation was encouraging, other information was heartbreaking. The schedule was constant, but there were also reprieves where less energy was needed. Afterwards, instead of state lines being crossed, we flew over the Gulf seas and spent time with our ministry team in-person the following week. Highs and lows occurred there with great moments of connection and teaching and prayer, but also some disappointments regarding Covid and expectations plummeting around a planned surprise. Ten days later, here we are back at the starting point, having returned to routines only to have the college school year begin for our three adult children. That’s a lot that happened in a relatively short span of time! No wonder my mind and response were a bit reactionary, especially after eighteen months of little to no travel or large gatherings.
As women in ministry, to be sure, we need safe spaces to express ourselves honestly and openly. If you don’t have that, I urge you to seek out a Connect group or other Jesus-centered support. But sometimes all the things stack up, and we’re tempted to express ourselves where it’s inappropriate or unwelcome. We can make others feel uncomfortable or even not want to be around us. The last thing I would want is to break connection with someone or turn them off by my indiscretion. So, imagine the smile on my face when I heard about a new approach, especially regarding casual conversation with others.
Since experiencing those recent events, I happened upon a bit of reframing advice in a comedic video clip by The Holderness Family that was profound to me. It impacted me deeply, as comedy often does in all the seriousness of life. This is the new challenge to myself for the foreseeable future. Instead of asking “How are you?”, I will try asking, “What’s good right now?” And maybe, when I hear that question asked of me, I can respond by saying, “Here’s what’s good…”
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV
If you’re interested in the comedy video I watched, you can view it here.
Kelly and her husband, Dave, have been Southern Missouri District missionaries since 2006, currently serving in the role of Mexico Area Directors. She also has been active online in the Refresh Connect groups and leadership team, recently receiving her ordination with the district. They have 3 adult children and a mini schnauzer.
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