Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Loveliest of All

by Danetta Kellar

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15

We returned from our honeymoon to the little four-room apartment as the sun began to set, casting its warm light over the cracked vinyl couch, green shag carpet, and homemade curtains. It was the loveliest sight I had ever seen. It was our first home together.

Piled high in the living room were wedding gifts, waiting for us and welcoming us like happy hosts. As a new bride, I was dazzled with the generosity of friends and family, overwhelmed by how much they had given to help us start our new life together. The boxes beckoned to us and we couldn’t wait to open them. On our scuffed second-hand table, someone had carefully arranged a display of our wedding china, crystal, and silver. We were surrounded by good things.

Three years later, I would carefully sift through all those shining gifts again, this time packing them away in boxes marked “fragile,” wondering if I would ever see them again. We could not take them to Africa. 

I love beautiful things. I believe they are given that we might serve others. I find great satisfaction in using them to make others feel welcome and loved. I was facing a great personal challenge. Could I lay aside my lovely things and find that beauty in Christ alone? Could I offer Him up like a comforting cup of tea in a fine bone china tea cup? Could I see the beauty of Christ against a backdrop of mud, exhausting equatorial heat, and the spiritual stubbornness of folk Islam? I was not sure. But I was determined to try.

I made peace with God about my pretty things as I tucked them away. I imagined myself a wee little gray-haired lady one day returning and unwrapping them to use in my retirement days, telling stories of God’s exploits to young people gathered around my glittering table. 

As I gingerly packed my crystal glasses in tissue paper and laid them in a cardboard box, I unpacked my heart and made more room for Christ.

As I handed my car keys to a single mother who needed a dependable way to transport her four children, I felt Christ’s hand reassuring me that I could depend on Him.

As we closed the door to our apartment one last time, a newer, bigger space for Christ was opened in me.

In the drab, brown-baked backdrop of our African village, I dreamed of my beautiful wedding gifts, hidden in boxes in a family member’s attic. But then Fatuma came to visit, and as we drank hot chai in big plastic mugs the light of Jesus in her eyes sparkled brighter than any silver. As throngs of children gathered near to sing Bible verses to the beat of my giant drum, their voices rang brighter than the purest crystal. I was again surrounded by good things, and Jesus was the Lord of them all.

Jesus is truly the Lord of all good things.

I don’t live in Africa anymore. I came back to my pretty things sooner than I expected. But something had happened to my heart while I was away. I had fallen in love with Jesus, and everything seemed dim in the light of His lordship.

Jesus is the loveliest of all.

Lord, of all the lovely things, may you be the loveliest to me. I set you aside today and every day as Lord of my heart. Amen.


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