We all know of some ugly ducklings that we have rubbed shoulders with in our lifetimes. Maybe we were an ugly duck growing up, or even today feel like we haven’t got it all together yet, and are waiting for that magical moment when we will turn into a beautiful swan!
Beautiful can be described in many ways. First, it can be seen as being physically attractive; like a knock-out! Secondly, we know of others who are charming in all their ways. Their charm and grace touch us. Thirdly, we can improve beauty by making ourselves or things more attractive. Just by simply adding or adorning a garnish. Each facet describes beautiful in wonderful ways.
Beautiful is seen most generally as positive, but if we happen to be an ugly duckling then beauty is something almost unattainable.
Many years ago, I went to a women’s conference where this story was told by a very gracious beautiful woman. She was on her way to a women’s retreat to teach women how to love the unlovely. She was running late and while standing in the already crowded airport was a grubby hippie with a vest on. The vest was unique in that it was made of sheepskin freshly slain. In fact, it was still dripping droplets of blood. The odor was stifling from the man and the vest that he wore.
As he stood in line, no one wanted to be near him because of the incredible odor and sight he created. His hair was matted and hung in his eyes, and his beard was uncut. It appeared he had not taken a bath in months by his filthy appearance. He was an ugly duckling, a misfit in society, and he was treated as such.
The lines were moving terribly slow and passengers were hoping that he was not getting on their airplane. The retreat speaker was no different than the others. She had those same misgivings and attitudes. He was the scum of the earth.
Sarah, the retreat speaker, finally got to her seat on the airplane. She sat next to the aisle. There was an empty seat next to the window. It looked like the plane was full and ready to take off. As Sarah looked up, there was the hippie with the vest on coming down the aisle. As he walked, the odor of the sheepskin vest filled the airplane. Sarah was praying, “Please, don’t let him sit next to me.” “Is this 15B?” he asked Sarah. “Yes, yes it is”, she said dimly.
As Sarah sat there, anger began to boil in her heart. All she wanted was to get on the plane, close her eyes and rest before the retreat. How could she do that with this dirty man sitting next to her, emitting this putrid odor? Now Sarah was arrayed in a beautiful white suit with a white fur over her shoulders. She was a classy lady. She was decked out from head to toe, and she wondered how God could put this creature next to her who was so filthy, dirty, and ugly.
Somewhere in the air, God began to talk to Sarah about her angriness, her pettiness, and her love for others based upon conditions. God reminded Sarah that He shows no favoritism or partiality. He wants all to come to His saving grace. He reminded her that she once was a sinner and yes, God wanted her to reach out and touch this hippie with God’s truth.
Sarah was obedient. She looked at him through God’s eyes. God so loved the world… She talked to him about God’s plan and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for all men. As Sarah shared, he accepted Christ’s gift of salvation. Right then, he became a new creature in Christ. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” [2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT].
As they walked off the plane together, the hippie took off his vest and threw it into the trash can. He told Sarah this is who I used to be, but now I am beautiful in His sight. “Thank you for sharing God’s love with me!”
Sarah went rejoicing to her retreat. She had experienced - beautiful!
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