“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
While sin mars the perfect masterpiece of God’s creation, beauty still remains in our world. We see frost sparkle on spikes of grass like a million twinkling points of light. A friend brings us homemade chicken noodle soup when we’re sick, and then stays to water the plants or feed the cat. We stop by Grandma’s for her butter rolls and sweet tea and we never want to leave. There are days so gorgeous they make our hearts ache with joy. There are moments so deep and pure that they seem to plunge us into the memory of Eden. These are gifts of God strung like pearls along the necklace of our lives. But they never seem to last.
It doesn’t take long living in this world to realize that beauty is fleeting. We open our dusty high school yearbook or view an album of old engagement pictures and wonder who those good-looking kids are. Time tends to stretch and sag, drag and pull. Or we gaze out the window at a gorgeous sunrise, and by the time we’ve grabbed our phone to take a picture, the colors have already grayed away.
The ephemeral nature of beauty in this world reminds us that there is an eternal home for us in heaven, where the very streets are paved with gold and where our Creator reigns in perfect and unchanging beauty. Time becomes a mudroom for eternity, a small space that beckons us to enter into our true home. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The broken beauty of this world is reflected in our own checkered beauty. We are children of God, yet we struggle with aging bodies and inward temptations. Like Paul in Romans 7, we long for someone to deliver us from our bodies of death. Why must our journeys on this earth mix sorrow and joy, deep pain and glimpses of beauty? Perhaps it is because light can shine better through the cracks in a broken vessel:
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. . . . Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, 16–18)
The fading, fleeting beauty we see around us reminds us of our eternal home and of the unchanging goodness of our God. Despite sin, we see glimmers of gold. What a gift!