Love sees the beauty in the severity

by Craig on January 3, 2012


The most beautiful and breathtaking spots on earth…
are in the most absolutely severe environments.

Within severity is beauty – but in the severity it takes eyes of love to see.

I need a name for 2012…
thoughts have been swirling…
hints only so far…but as yet…no name.

Anyway…there’s this…

Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.
If I take the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,
Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.
If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”
Darkness is not dark for you,
and night shines as the day. (PS 139:7-12)

There is beauty at the North Pole and God is there…


…beauty in the depths of the ocean and God is there too.

The severity of any environment…
too dry…
too hot…
too cold…
too much pressure…
no pressure at all…

the vacuum of space…
the gravity of a black hole…

the dark…
of a heart.

Severity has no effect on the one who created the place in which the severity resides.

Lord, when You behold the icy depths…
or stars so massive they’d swallow our Sun…
You move right in, unaffected by the harshness of the place.

I think maybe You must enjoy the beauty.
But You see the heavy too. Don’t You?
Because no matter how beautiful anything is…
it’s not as beautiful as it could be…
it’s broken.
Everything. Is. Broken.


For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. (Rom 8:19-22)

all of us…
so human…
so frail…
even when we pretend not to be.

all of us…
so human…
so frail…
can’t always see…
through the immediate severity to the glory of it all.

I walk through the valleys too often…
not only lacking better eyes…better vision…
but with blinders on because I don’t want to see…
and I miss the beauty in the severity.

Yet I know that through my life…
during the times of greatest severity…


…that’s where some of the most precious gems were found.

I’m nudging closer to naming this year.

Tomorrow I give it its name…

Please come back.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie January 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Psalm 139 is my favorite passage in the Bible. I love the idea of severity and beauty going hand in hand. I had not thought of that before. Much to think on here.


Katie January 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Opps… hit enter to quickly.

“the dark…
of a heart.”

Beauty deep within is something often I don’t see here, but I am learning continually to share the dark corners, bringing them to the light, then they don’t seem dark and do seem more beautiful.


Craig January 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I originally got this idea driving cross country – through deserts, mountains, snow etc… It hit me most on mountaintops and deserts. Can’t avoid THAT metaphor!!! God bless you Katie – keep shining the light – more light – less darkness. God bless you my friend.


Victoria January 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

sometimes there’s just nothing that can be said except “this is good.”
Looking forward to 2012’s name. I hadn’t thought to give a name to a year…but now that you’ve got me thinking about it…for me? I choose the name Significant because I truly believe it will be.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I’ve made reference to the fact that this year was named “connect” – that involved a little bit of risk – but not nearly so much as this year’s name is going to. Oh me of little faith better get a huge dose of it – otherwise there’s no way I’ll live up to the name of this year. And I like your name – I hope it will be significant for you. God bless you my friend.


Erin January 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm

“Yet I know that through my life…
during the times of greatest severity…

…that’s where some of the most precious gems were found.”

Amen to that, wonderful post Craig.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Erin, thank you. I don’t know why it seems that we learn sometimes through adversity more than we learn the other way. I think maybe it’s because we listen harder in severe times – and maybe we remember better. Whatever the reason – sometimes God brings gold out of garbage. God bless you Erin.


BrandeeShafer January 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

We grow and learn most when we’re threatened, I think (by circumstances, if not by people or Satan). And we have our greatest opportunites to witness when we’re in trouble. Happy New Year, Craig. I just know that God will bless you abundantly in 2012.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Brandee, it might be like when Laska the Love Kitty is outside with me and he hears a noise, followed by another one, from two different directions, and his eyes begin to dart this way, and that way, and his ears twitche, and all of his senses are heightened. Maybe that’s what we like in severe times – and you’re right – if we keep our eyes up when things are really down – people notice. Anyway, thank you Brandee, and God bless you as always.


Lisa Maria January 4, 2012 at 8:04 am

Craig.. I had to read this one twice.. just to let the words soak in. So beautiful and profound…as always! Yes, I too have found that it is out of the dark places I find the gems, and yes, we are all broken and imperfect…yet He loves us!

I’ve come to realize that out of that love comes the discipline and the pruning and the purifying so that we can become more beautiful with each step we take. Happy New Year to you and I wish you all God’s blessings…I look forward to seeing what God is revealing to you.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Lisa Maria, God gets all the credit – ALL OF IT. We’re just messengers. He made the fact that the most severe places are beautiful – I just drove through them – and noticed it. And now wrote about it. But thank you, thank you. I’m really grateful that you read me Lisa Maria. God bless you!


Dawn January 4, 2012 at 8:30 am

Dear Craig,

You must get Mark Buchanan’s “Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul”. It will bless you as you work through all this.

I LOVED this post: seeing the beautiful in the austere, the soft in the hard, the high in the low, the precious in the mundane…

He is ALWAYS there, yes, we just need to adjust our lens,


Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

now that’s a little bit of poetry! “…seeing the beautiful in the austere, the soft in the hard, the high in the low, the precious in the mundane…” thank you for that Dawn! And yes, adjust our lenses – or have better eyes. God bless you my friend.


Debbie January 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

You have me wanting to keep the eyes of my heart open, even in the hard . . .to see what He wants me to see, the beauty of Him in it. He’s there and I don’t want to miss Him. God bless you Craig, and fill your life with beauty.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Debbie, you and me both – probably almost all of us want to close our eyes for the really hard parts. But you’re right – if we do, we might miss him. Thank you Debbie – God bless you!


Tracie January 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This right here, what you wrote, is amazingly beautiful.

I can’t wait to learn what your name for the year is going to be.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm

thank you Tracie. The last few posts have dropped hints as to what the name for the year will be – I actually would’ve posted it today – but it was written to link up with Ann Voskamp – and there was no link today – so tomorrow – a little bit on each blog. Anyway, January 14th guess what comes back ツ

God bless!!


Debra January 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

New Year blessings Craig. May 2012 be overflowing with an abundance of peace and joy, love and light, and more creativity. Even in the midst of this dark world, and in desolate places, may we all see His beauty everywhere we go, whomever we are with, in whatever we do.
Looking for beauty in the arctic blast, where the water left outside in bowls for the animals freezes before I can get back inside the house. No wait, I DO see the beauty of His Spirit in me, looking out for His creatures out in the cold.


Craig January 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Debra – you know I heart your insights – I’m reducing my blog posts from 10 a week down to eight so I can open up more time to read – so I’ll be reading you more – Yay! and yes – how he does look out for us, his creations, in the cold. That made me smile – thank you. God bless you Debra!!


Darnly Motter January 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Craig, Thank you so much for this…..your words speak to hearts with so much truth of the human experience. Have you read “Awed to Heaven, Rooted on Earth” by Walter Bruggemann? Ann V recommends it. it is a book of prayers in poetry that he would offer at the beginning of theology classes he taught at Columbia Seminary. If you haven’t, I really think you would like them.
Thanks to God for you and all that He has taught you and brought you through.


Craig January 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

Darnly, pretty much the only stuff I have time to read are the blogs that I heart. I don’t even really have enough time for that. If the book is recommended by both Ann and you – I’m thinking it’s awesome – but I really heart blog reading – it’s different.

Darnly, thank you – and God bless you.


Layla Payton January 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm

This post is… perfect.

“Severity has no effect on the one who created the place in which the severity resides.”

I’m going to put that thought in my pocket. I might need to pull it out a few times. 😉


Craig January 5, 2012 at 11:15 am

your comment…perfect. Thank you Layla, God bless you!!


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