People fly all over the world to see ancient ruins, to stand in the midst of partial walls and leftover temples. There is no judgment about what's not there. There is respect for the beauty that remains.
I am fascinated, too, with ruined things, abandoned things. Just the other day I ran across a picture online of photographs Romain Veillon shot of abandoned places. One, in particular, caught my eye, the photo I've used in this post. The picture captures the teacup ride, inoperable at a now defunct Disney park in Japan. As I looked at the photo, I thought of the first time I rode the teacup ride when I lived in southern California as a young writer. My job was located just down the expressway from Anaheim. I'd drive for an hour and a half and be at Disneyland, that enchanted kingdom I'd dreamed about since girlhood. I loved the teacup ride, the way I could twist the wheel in the middle and twirl and twirl, my hair blown back, laughing. Pleasure.
And now seeing those wrecked Japanese teacups caused me some sadness. They still have shades of beauty, yet vines grow around them and they're beginning to rust. Yet if someone set out to restore the ruined parts, the ride could function again. This photo reminds me of myself in some ways. I often don't view my ruined places in a nonjudgmental way. I don't see myself as I beleive God sees me.
Oh, I see the parts of me that are rusty and bent, the places that are weed-infested, vine-covered. I see the peeling paint on my door, but not the pot of flowers blooming there on the stoop. I don't see the elegance of the brick walls. It can be easier to underscore what's wrong rather than imagine what could be.
I think God delights in all the ruined, abandoned places. When he looks at me, He doesn't see what's wrong. He sees what's missing. He says, "Oh, I love that gorgeous color you painted the door; it's such a vibrant blue. I know it's peeling. Let's just give it some sanding and paint it again. I'll help you. You choose the color and let's start the process. You'll see. It's going to be great. Next we'll add some flooring and redo the windows. Your frame is fantastic. Your house has great bones. It looked good even in its ruined state, but now, now you can live in your home and enjoy it. I'm right with you. I'm the Master Carpenter, remember?"
I might just imagine my life represented by those Japanese teacups and God saying, "Oh, you're a beauty, let me help you prune the vines and get the wheel turning again. Soon you'll be whirling, twirling, laughing and enjoying the ride of your life." Kingdom pleasures.
You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore~Psalm 16:11