Beauty Inside

IMG_0144But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)

It is so funny how we make such quick decisions and come to conclusions just based on what we see on the outside. For some things appear unattractive, unappealing and so unapproachable.  We avoid them but if we just step inside a thing and go a little further to see the core…it may just be the most beautiful thing you have seen or experienced ever.

Go a little further. Check inside…for there is a world of beauty in it that we would have never imagined possible just by what it looked like on the outside.

I went on a trip to Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park in Great River New York with 11 other ladies for a brunch and tour.  This was an immaculate and exquisite place to visit. The place is known for its beauty with 691 acres of green land. So much to take in and view. It is surrounded by the Connetquot River, beautiful trees, pine, grass and more. The website provides this detail below:

Bayard Cutting Arboretum was donated to the Long Island State Park Region by Mrs. William Bayard Cutting and her daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, in memory of William Bayard Cutting, “to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting.”  The site was originally wooded and many of the large oaks now seen were retained during the clearing of  the land. The current collection of fir, spruce, pine, cypress, hemlock, yew and other lesser known conifers is still probably the most extensive to be found on Long Island. Contained within the collection are several trees which, regionally, are the largest of their species. Also found are extensive plantings of dwarf evergreens, rhododendron, azaleas, hollies and oaks.

IMG_0177As we began to tour the land after brunch we passed this huge “thing” planted on the ground. I couldn’t tell you what it is called from the outside except that it has leaves…yes it should be a tree. When you walk closer you get to a small opening leading to a walkway inside of what it really is…A HUGE PLANTED TREE!  It is gorgeous. It’s roots are so deep. It has grown so much that it dug thick branches back into the ground. There are fallen leaves around it so that it is hidden. You can’t see the tree because of what has happened over time. It shaped into something peculiar and something very distinct.

I ran in first with my camera because I had been there just one month prior. I was truly enjoying each of their faces as they lit up with amazement as they walked inside. I took photos of each woman. I knew they were going to love this! Rightly so! It is something so overwhelming to the eye to take in at once. We spent a long part of our tour time just under this tree. We took so many pictures, climbed, laughed and explored the grounds around this tree. Everyone of them loved it, including myself seeing this for the second time.

What makes me reflect on this unusual tree is how we could also be at times. We don’t give things a chance …or an opportunity to reach into the most profound place. Just as the word of God tells us…as humans we look at the outward appearance but that is not what God is looking at when He sees us. He looks at the core of us. He looks at the inmost place. He looks at the heart. The part that we cover up so well for fear of being exposed and naked before others. When we are uncovered we almost expect to get hurt so we put up that covering and wall of protection. Is it such a fear to be exposed. If we are on display… Why? God has it all what more can we keep from Him. What is there to hide when He sees it all anyway.

Exposed is left or being without shelter or protection; laid open to view; unconcealed; susceptible to attack; vulnerable; to uncover or bare to the air; present to view; exhibit or display; to make known, disclose or reveal; unmask; to hold up to public reprehension or ridicule.

Sometimes we even question, what if I can’t be ME with YOU? That is probably not good. I want to be me. The flawed me. The natural me. The imperfect me. The growing me. The me that needs help. The me that needs Jesus, that is the me I need to be. He sees me and I trust that SO much. More than any man on earth, for He is my Judge, my Ruler, my Counselor, my everything… And so I brought myself to Him, fully flawed and quickly for I needed rescuing. He saw my heart and wanted to expose just that. And so I surrendered. He saved me. He did the work. There is a covering for me when I am exposed and He places that upon me so that what is reflected internally will outweigh everything I have externally. Just like that tree. There is a beauty inside that HE wants to extract.

“O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You.”
~‭‭Psalm‬ ‭69:5‬ ‭(NKJV‬‬)

“I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah”
‭‭~Psalm ‭61:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
~Ezekiel 37:6

We often think but I do want to be me… the uncut version. I want to be me with someone that will accept every part of me. For there is One that will do just that. The Almighty One. The Deliverer. The Savior. The Helper. The Father. The Friend. The One that knows it all ANYWAY. The One that will be with you at all times. You can be your authentic and individual self and allow Him to do that constructive work in you. Give to Him the hidden fully flawed part so He can make you fully filled with His glory. He is looking at that heart of yours. That is what He is waiting for all along. Not based on how you view things but on how He views things in us.

Whatever happened in your life to cover you like this tree, just let it go. Experiences that have altered us in some way over time have made us peculiar too. All these things make us look and act a certain way outwardly. Yet, our focus should not be merely external but the internal which is more valuable in the sight of God and others. So just when you think something may be off and unappealing–it is actually something deep within that makes it real and worthwhile so that you can experience the beauty inside.




About Christina

Blessings to all that are viewing this. My name is Christina Cruz-Mendez. I am a Senior Pastor at Mission United International Church in Yonkers, NY working along side my husband Juan A. Mendez Jr. Senior Pastor, currently residing in Canton, Georgia. We have been together for 29 years with 2 children that God has blessed us with. Makes us the family of four - "JusChrist4". I have been a Christian and active in ministry for about 22 years now. Through all the rocky and smooth roads in life I am eternally grateful that God has brought me this far in life to share with the world what He is doing in me, through me and for me. View all posts by Christina

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