Joy and I stood before the artisan anticipating his newest creation. The old, bearded man picked up a small, clear, glass tube with callused hands and gently stroked it. The two-thousand degree fire spewed from the dragon's mouth and we could feel the intense heat from a few feet away. While others came to the medieval fair for entertainment and sports, we came to enjoy the musicians and artists.
Would the artist create a dog, a cat, a dolphin, or something else from the dozens on display behind him? Scattered about on the table of the lamp maker were hundreds of discarded shards of glass. If the broken and shattered pieces had been found any place else, they would have been thrown in the trash as worthless. But in the hands of the expert, little creatures of beauty sprung into being. The man “knew” his creations before they were sculpted into existence. With all-consuming passion, he focused on the object he held up to the burning flame. We stood transfixed, wondering what would emerge from the heat.
Not able to bear the suspense any longer, Joy asked, "What are you making?"
The artist glanced up at Joy with a look of satisfaction.
"I am making a hummingbird."
We stared at the glass object as it glistened intensely. From the cylindrical shape came forth a small bird with flapping wings, a high tail, and a long beak. The intricate creation looked like the little winged creature that visited our red hummingbird feeder in the summer. It was hard to believe something so delicate had been forged out of two thousand degrees. Hidden in the worthless shard of glass was beauty that the artisan could see and no one else.
Watching him pursue with such intensity a dying art reminded me of the Great Creator, who thousands of years ago, created a world out of nothing. God flung the stars into the darkness to create light. He shook the heavens to release droplets that blanketed the earth, filling the valleys with abundance. He carved the mountains as monuments that stretched into the heavens. Everything God created was perfect. God's crowning glory was the creation of man in His image, When the Great Master finished all His work, He described everything as "good."
Even after man's fall from grace, God created beauty by devising a plan to rescue us. God sees what we can become, not what we are now—in the rough, full of warts and foibles that only He knows. God sees beauty despite the mess we make of our lives. In hard places, He is our Hope. In broken dreams, He is our Redeemer. In sickness, He is the Great Physician. When we are discouraged, He strengthens us. He has a plan even when we don’t have a clue.
I am amazed at how beauty takes hold again and again in so many forms. Even in our fallen state, the imperfections that surround us have hidden echoes of God's image. He never wastes anything to woo us back to His unconditional love.
That’s because God knows us better than we know ourselves. He promises hope and love and peace. He gives us opportunity and faith and joy. He sees what we can’t because He knows how it's all going to turn out.
God is the Great Author who penned the greatest story ever written thousands of years ago. He painted the picture when nothing yet existed. Today He works out the rough edges of our lives to prepare us for the great banquet. In all our imperfections, God sees beauty. He even blesses us with a sense of wonder so we can catch a glimpse of the world beyond.
Just as the artisan discovers beauty in shards of glass, the Master sees beyond our shattered lives. He breathes life into the heart of our souls. His heavenly hands long to mold us into the person He created us to be.
Today the hummingbird sits on our bookshelf and speaks of beauty. Someday I hope God will marvel at me, just as the artisan held up the hummingbird and nodded his approval. How wonderful it would be to hear the Master say on that blessed day, "Well done, my good and faithful servant.”