Ruined Vase
There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that says, He has made everything beautiful in its time (3:11). Do you find that to be a crazy idea? I do. Everything? I get the break up from a girlfriend when you are teenager or twenty-ager. Later you meet the love of your life and you are so glad the other didn't happen. I get that. I get the car accident that destroys your Ford Pinto and the sorrow and frustration of dealing with replacing it. But then you find an AMC Gremlin for sale and your settlement with the insurance was just enough to get you the keys to the Gremlin. I even get that.

What about some of the other everythings out there? Some of them are pretty big. Some of them are pretty scary. In my own life I have recently become a cancer patient. Let that word cancer sink in for moment. Throughout my life I have heard of others that have had to face that word. My step dad was one. Friends that have moved out of this life. Friends whose children were stricken. Friends whose spouses are now gone. This is a big everything.

But it isn't the only everything. Let me drop a couple of more ~ divorce. IRS. Paralysis. Suicide. Addiction. Those are big. And they are by no means alone. You could add your own everything to that list. Some of them make you cry. Some of them terrify you. Some of them are upon you right now. (may I interject here for just a second ~ If you are going through a big everything right now, I am sorry. If I could, I would wrap my arms around you and just let you cry. It's okay to cry. You don't have to be brave all the time.)

That's why I think that verse is crazy. It is so radically opposite of how I feel about some of the everythings we have to deal with. Many times the knee-jerk reaction is to wish you could just throw that thing away. We think, Things will never be the same again! You want to know the truth? It's true. They can be game changers. Some everythings change everything.

I am reading a book called Beautiful Battlefieldsby Bo Stern, and I am loving it. Her family is dealing with Lou Gerhig's disease. Another big everything. She is, at the time of this writing, watching her husband slowly deteriorate until one day the inevitable will happen~ He will pass away. Put yourself in her shoes for just a moment and think of losing the one person you love most in this world. That is her battle.

Here is something amazing. While she is battling a big everything, she has not found it all to be ugly. In fact she has found an amazing thing. Beauty in the battle. Listen to what she says.

Some beautiful things can only be found in the hardest times. Can you turn that idea around in your mind for a bit and let its size and scope seep in? God is for us. He is for our growth, our joy, our success, and our maturity, and He will use every struggle we face as the delivery agents for His most remarkable gifts. Our beautiful God has hidden beauty in the soil of our battlefield. He has placed treasure there that we simply would not be able to find in other, more peaceful places.

And that from someone who is watching her husband slowly die. Beauty found on the battlefield.

I found a new potter on line. His name is Joel Cherrico. He said something that captured my attention. I never break a pot on purpose, even if I think it is ugly... I know that someone out there will enjoy drinking from a mug that I think is ugly. Isn't that great!

At the top of this post is picture of a vase in a kiln. I made it. I put glaze on it. I put too much glaze on it. The glaze ran when I fired it. The vase stuck to the shelf of my kiln and was ruined. It became ugly. It was set aside to be thrown away. That is until my friend Bogdan showed up. He saw something beautiful in my failure. In fact, he loved it.

"What are you going to do with that?"

"Throw it away," I replied.

"Can I have it?"

Can I have it! Didn't he see the the broken bottom? Didn't he see the glaze that ran too far and made it ugly? He saw the beauty and the ugly. I tried to talk him out of it. He took the piece home and put it on display. 

There is hope in our ugly everything. Why? Well this is the good part. Going back to that verse in Ecclesiastes there is a much smaller word than that everything word. He. He is there. The He who is so much bigger than any everythingHe sees the ugly everything and asks, "What are you going to do with that?" "Throw it away." "Can I have it?"

What! Can You have my ugly? You would want that? My ugly everything?

Oh, yes. I want to make it beautiful.

Not too long ago my wife, Jennifer posted a status update on her Facebook along with a photo of an eel. It was the end of the day, she had been to the Portland Aquarium, it was the night before Easter, and she was ready to head off to bed. Here is what she said.

I keep asking God to show me the ugly-beautiful. Everywhere there is ugliness, yet His beauty is in the midst. He redeems every tear, He holds us close, He makes an eel that repels and fascinates at the same time. I'm in awe of Him. Sleep well, Sweet Ones. In the morning we won't be mourning any more.

Sweet One, there is coming a time when your everything will be made beautiful by He who cares. I don't know how. I don't know when. But I do know Him. He made the promise. He keeps His promises every time with everything.


  1. Wow. It is obvious God is showing you things in a new way. Not a chosen way, but His way - for this time. If you only knew how many people are praying for you and your family. Thank you for letting us share this experience. It is enriching my life, too.

    1. Bonnie, thank you for your kind words. Yes, God is doing a new thing. I am still dealing with fear of the unknown and the known. Sometimes fear makes fertile ground for new growth. I am so thankful for the prayers. They are truly sustaining for our family. It is good to know that you are blessed through this. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. What a beautifully written post and timely reminder of the character of our God. I am happy that God knows everything you need at every moment to process the whole 'cancer' word. Thank you for sharing and for the incredible encouragement!

  3. Cheryl, I am so glad to hear that you were encouraged by this post. Yes, God has it figured out all the time. Even when we are at our most lost, God ain't! Thanks for commenting. Lots of love to you.