Last week, we began a two-part message on the old tale of Beauty and the Beast. We discovered what we often think of as ugly and hideous (a beast) can turn into something beautiful, given time and a new perspective. And sometimes what we think is beautiful on the outside has a beast on the inside. Often, what is on the inside will eventually surface on the outside. That’s why God is concerned with our inside. It affects our outside. As 1 Samuel 16:7b states, “…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Sometimes beastly things turn into beautiful things. Let me illustrate with a story by an unknown author I used years ago in this column.
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help but no one came.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he returned home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. Everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me?” he cried.
Early the next day he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied. The beast of the fire produced the beauty of being rescued. You see, it’s not our experience that really matters. It’s what we believe about our experience that matters.
We see the concept of discovering the beauty in the beast three days before Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus, knowing that His time had come, was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. “And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt and [began] to pray, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” Luke 22:41-44.
Jesus knew He was going to experience the beast of death on a cross. He knew He had to take on the beast of every sin committed by humankind in the world…past, present and future. He knew He was going to experience the beast of being betrayed by one of His very own disciples. He knew He was going to experience the beast of being rejected by one of His closest disciples and His friends. And worst of all, He knew He was going to experience something He had never experienced before…the beast of separation from God and being forsaken by God. Also, He knew He needed to pray at Gethsemane to go through Calvary.
Then Christ engaged the five beasts listed above, summarized in this verse, “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!” 2 Corinthians 5:21. (The Living Bible). Defeating those five beasts on Resurrection Day (Easter) created the beauty for us and Him. He shared the beauty. He demonstrated, not agony of the beast defeat and death, but the ecstasy of the beauty of eternal life.
Maybe you are facing a beast. Perhaps it’s just the beast you need to face. After you do, you may be stunned by the beauty and peace you receive. Why? Elevation comes after engagement. “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18. Message Bible.