Lovely. There’s a gentle tenderness about the word. Beautiful, attractive. But do I see what is lovely as good soil for my soul? Good for my mental health?
I don’t think I would, intuitively.
I love that “lovely” is included in the list of whatevers in Philippians 4 that we’re encouraged to dwell on. Otherwise in our efficient, materialistic society, we might step back from the wealth around us and start thinking that lovely things are wasteful or excessive. But inherently, they are not so. True, like other good gifts, they can become idols. But they cultivate grace and slowness in our lives and help us savor the things around us — and through them, their good Giver. They give our souls space to worship and make our houses home.
And God made them all — flowers, design, sunsets, children, and the balance we appreciate in a host of physical, relational, and musical expressions of loveliness. The mother of us all, Eve, was created to be “the glory of man” and was, I’m certain, lovely.
“Whatever is lovely” (Philippians 4:8).
But do you know what is lovely around me today? Home. My home with all its cluttery silliness and all it represents. Things that should and could be put away but aren’t. Stray socks and a wagon and Amazon packages and half-thirsty plants and bandaid wrappers and pillows that little minds thought needed to be here and not there. Bibles and school books and pencils and legos. Two shoes that don’t match, fuzz and dust and loose papers that are bills or forgotten offerings of artwork that never made it to the fridge. Dried out flowers that were brought inside in rapture but never given a drink.
Lovely? Really? I hear my mama friends groaning. Bear with me though.
It's soaked in sweeping window sunshine throughout the day. It gathers and listens to all the goings on of little voices and lives. Little hands doing big jobs, and big hands doing tiny type-y computer work. Little hearts with big feelings and loud words, and big hearts that struggle to find words for the quietest of pains. And all together, the noise,the light of days, the clutter and the motion, the going and coming and staying and being — it all represents something small and rare and longed for by so many souls — home.
I don’t always love all the mess and goings on, and I rarely get nostalgic about the constant army of clutter that I battle. Home life is a lot of work. And it’s not much to look at.
But today, it all struck me as lovely. Attractive? Maybe not to a design magazine. But to a lonely soul? Absolutely. To me? Today? Yes.
And oddly enough, this is what Scripture says about the Lord Jesus Himself.
“…He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2).
When they looked at Him, what they saw was average. An everyday, normal man. He wasn’t much to look at.
But to those He healed? Saved? Knew? That is a different story altogether. For them, for us, when we see Him, we see beauty the world doesn’t see. “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty…” (Isaiah 33:17).
With eyes of faith, He is anything but average. He is our Savior, the lover of our souls, our bridegroom that is coming again, the intercessor for us, our perfect high priest. There is simply no one that could compare to this average-looking man that we have come to love and serve and see with eyes of faith.
And sometimes, when we look around at our lives, we need to just ask the Lord for His eyes, His perspective. Then our average homes are incalculable treasures. Our annoying kids are priceless. Our jobs are a gift of provision from God. Our brothers and sisters in Christ, a blessing. Yes, we can dwell on and glory in the beautiful things of this world — springtime flowers, well-designed architecture, or beautiful poetry. And we can and should. But we can also pray that God would daily give us eyes of faith so we can see the loveliness of things that, at first glance, aren't — just like the Savior.
Truly, “He is all together lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16).