"Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme....Beauty and the Beast" Last week I was sitting in the Canton High School Commons watching an elegantly and beautifully dressed girl dance with this goofy-looking "Beast" (no offense to the boy of course!) dance back and forth while "Mrs Pots" sang the love song from the movie "Beauty and the Beast." My mom is a choir director in Canton for both the Jr. High and High school and I had the privilege of watching their spring musical performance. The kidos did an outstanding job and really told the story very well; in fact, they stirred up a lot of sweet and precious memories for me of when I was a little girl dancing around to this song in play clothes with some bear or ken doll in our living room. I was infatuated with stories that contained a beautiful girl searching out an adventure. Naturally, every little girl sees her role as "Beauty" when in reality---I think I'm closer to the Beast. I know, I know, I am not trying to fish for compliments or be the girl that never is satisfied with her looks--I'm telling the truth! Turn to a page in the Bible that I was reading in my quiet time this morning and allow me to explain:
"When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that my heart desires besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:20-26 ESV
On any given day, I can turn into a beast: past sins, regret and bitterness can easily creep into my heart and make me hostile towards the work of God's holiness and redemption in my life. I can be ignorant and just plain stubborn in surrendering things at the foot of the cross. I recall a scene from the musical last week when the beast yells at beauty " You're not welcomed here! Get out!!!!!!" Ha! I may not say those words audibly---or even think those words, but when I reject the Holy Spirit's leading or conviction, it is as if I am saying those things. My fits of rage and temper tantrums may sound something more like this: " Not now God, I'm too busy with other things. I just want to have a pity party right now ok? It hurts a lot--how could this happen to me, what did I ever do?" Yup. Even though it may have different words than the script, I would say that that those statements have come from a beast: me--bad breath and all!
But the "beauty" in this story (I hear the pretty melody of the transitional background music--if I could insert me humming it right here I would :), is that word found in verse 23 "Nevertheless." Despite my rage and anger, God remains faithful: He holds my right hand, guides me and even receives me into glory (vs. 23-25) The Psalmist confesses that in comparison to any other person or thing both in heaven and on earth---nothing matters and is more desiring than knowing God (v 25). He admits that his flesh and heart may fail but that really, God is the strength (or in Hebrew--Rock) of his heart and my portion forever. Portion refers to "lot, lines," or "inheritance." I think of portion as the only thing I cling to--the only thing that I will have in the end of my life.
Wow. We can watch a movie like Beauty and the Beast and think "what a great story!" But it's deeper than that when you look at it in light of what you know in Scripture: We are like the Beast but then we are transformed because of the grace, the mercy, faithfulness and ultimately, the love of our God. He is not fearful of us in our horrific state of sin: He sees us as 'ugly and gruesome' yet redeemable. The Bible says that once we accept Christ--when we 'died our lives are now hidden with Christ in God' (Col. 3:3). So when God looks at us--he no longer sees the beast, He sees Christ and He promises to 'never leave us nor forsake us' (Deut. 31:6). Surrender the mask of the "beast" to Christ so that you can experience the "beauty" of knowing God and claim the "beautiful inheritance" (Psalm 16:6).