There is a growing trend toward ugliness. The financial struggles this year are ugly. Both major political parties seem to have sunk into a new level of ugliness. Public discourse is becoming uglier. As news breaks from day to day we are exposed to all manner of creative ugliness. We hear of ugly weather and ugly moods, situations, architecture, even ugly truths.
"Uglyism" lives! It appears when we least expect it. Most of the time it is just below the surface, repulsive and largely invisible, but everywhere.
This week, even with your eyes closed, you will see ugliness. Without trying, you will be exposed to ugly comments, ugly injustices, ugly squabble, ugly arrogance, ugly attitudes, ugly confrontations, and a few other ugly messes.
What do you do when faced with ugliness? You can run; run as fast as you can. Deny the reality and escape to fantasyland. You can condemn the ugliness and talk constantly about how bad it is and how sad it is that we live in the middle of so much disgust. Or, you can become an agent of transformation. Hidden somewhere in the middle of ugliness is blessing and beauty put there by the Creator. He continues to allow ugliness to introduce us to new beauty. It's there, unseen, but there.
This is not the time to run. This is the time for faith to step up; it's time to see the unseen hidden inside our growing culture of ugliness.
One of the most challenging movies in my DVD collection is "The Green Mile." It's a story of ugliness and pain. Most of the movie is set in a death row prison of the 1930s. In a cell toward the end of the hall is an innocent large black man named John Coffey. He has few words to say, but he is the reason for making the movie.
They say he committed a brutal crime; but, as the story unfolds, you learn he has miraculous gifts of healing and prophesy. Just by touching the arm of a fellow inmate, he can see the rapes and murders that the man has committed.
Tom Hanks plays the head guard who finally comes to the truth: John is innocent. He asks John if he wants him to fight to get him off death row. In a weeping response, Coffey explains, "I's tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world ever' day. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?"
Tom's character did. Do you?
You have a gift, maybe not one of Coffey's gifts, but you have a gift. The God of transformation has given you eyes to see the unseen, to see beauty when all around you is pain and ugliness. You CAN see the good when it's covered in badness, the hope in hopelessness, the healing in pain, the beauty in the middle of ugliness.
Now, the question: Do you choose to open the gift, or run with the ugly crowd?
For one week, just one week, try seeing the unseen.
Pray for eyes to see beyond the ugliness, to see hope and goodness and goodness and beauty. It's a gift from God. Believe it. Live it, for just one week and you will be transformed. Your mind will be renewed. You will become an agent of transformation.
Look for it!
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 (Philippians 4:8 TNIV).
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