Home 9 Devotion 9 From Decay to Beauty

From Decay to Beauty

What do you see when you look back at your past? Do the feelings of shame and embarrassment bubble up?

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who do not gawk at your past with disgust but rather with adoration.

During my quality time with Jesus recently, He showed me something beautiful about mine. We were walking along a path. Jesus stopped in His tracks, looked ahead, and said,

“Behold, look at all that is yet to come.” Staring at endless fields of nothingness, I was puzzled.

“I do not see anything,” I said to Him.

Jesus smiled knowingly. He turned back to the road we had already traveled and gestured for me to do the same.

“Behold, look at all you have overcome!”

Broken, crumbling buildings flooded the landscape. Some are burning, while others are reduced to smoldering ash. It was a gray and decaying wasteland. All the buildings were made of poor-quality materials, sticks, and mud. As I scanned the horizon, ruins were everywhere.

I inhale deeply. Immediately, I noticed the intense smell of smoke mixed with rot, decay, and trash. My ears perked up. The crackle of the raging fires invaded my ears, getting louder and louder as I stood there.

Shame and embarrassment took over. Just as I was about to become consumed by humiliation, a warm and graceful touch jerked my attention to the smiling, gentle face beside me.

Jesus stretched His hand out toward the shameful ruins.

“What are You doing?” I asked in a confused tone.

“Only believe,” Jesus whispered.

“I. Will try,” I hesitantly replied.

The ground began to shake, slowly at first but increased rapidly along with a roaring rumble. Seeing the fear take over, Jesus shouted over the rumble, “Hold tight to Me!”

Without hesitation, I threw my hands around Him and held on as though my life depended on it. It felt as though it did.

I shut my eyes tightly, which heightened the rumbling sound of what I assumed was the destruction of what had been.

I sense Jesus’ hand on my head, “Look, My child,” He called out.

“I don’t want to. I’m too frightened,” I confessed.

The smell of decay faded almost immediately, and the aroma of flowers flooded my nostrils. I took a deep breath. Jesus’ hands were on my arms to help me stand as He assured me, “Trust Me, I am making old things new.”

Cautiously, I open my eyes to an unrecognizable landscape. It was beautiful.

The once dingy horizon was saturated with color; even the grass looked lusher and sky bluer. Where rotting buildings of sticks and mud stood sprang ones of stone, marble, and gold.

Each one reached higher than the one that stood before it.

Flowers had grown from the ground and trees. I noticed their scent more intensely this time.

Roses, peonies, lilies, honeysuckles, magnolias, and many more caught the attention of my nose then my eyes took in their beautiful blooms.

Suddenly, I noticed where the rumble had once invaded my ears and now stood stillness and peace. I only heard the song of a bird or two and then observed each inhale and exhale of Jesus and me.

A whirl of emotions, from confusion to amazement, besieged me. I mumble, “Why did You do that?”

Jesus smiles and offers His hand. “Just wait until you see what I have planned for you; it is more wonderful than what you have just witnessed Me do.”

Jesus turned back toward the direction in which we were initially walking. I took hold of His hand. Taking a few steps, I turned to look at what was for one last time. I smiled because I finally realized what He had done. “Jesus?” I asked.

“Yes, My child?”

“Thank you for transforming the ugly, anxious brokenness into beauty and peace.”

With His magnificently bright smile assuring that He would never leave me broken, Jesus and I continued hand in hand, laughing and talking.

This personal reflection was written by Lauren, CCBS Class of ’24, who earned her Associates of Arts in Biblical Studies.