Searching Out the Beauty


I’d like to share with you an Immanuel Prayer experience I had this week, because I think there is a profound message of hope in it that’s meant for more people than just me.

(Inmanuel Prayer is a facilitated experience of Immanuel, “God with us,” that is meant to deepen a connection with the living presence of the Lord. For more, go here.)

With Immanuel Prayer, we always start off by asking the Lord to show the recipient (me, in this case), where he wants to start.

What came to mind surprised me, and at first I tried to discard it and find another. But the image kept coming back: my neighbor’s tree that I saw this morning.

The crabapple tree was in partial blossom, which struck me as a bit disappointing. Why was only one part of the tree in bloom (see the right outer part)? Usually this tree is a wonder—all the branches laden with the pink blossoms. Is it diseased?

It felt like a picture of this global pandemic itself. Not what we’re used to, not what we expected, and with only a little of the usual splendor left.

My attention, however, both on my walk and in this Immanuel Prayer session, was drawn to the part that was in bloom. The beautiful part, the blossom-laden branches blowing in the wind. I got up close and took a picture, filling the frame only with the blossoms.

When my attention wandered to wondering and feeling disappointed about the part of the tree that wasn’t blooming, Immanuel gently pulled my attention to the beautiful blossoms.

As I paid attention to the part where beauty remained, I sensed what he wanted me to know was that is always where his focus is.

His focus is always on what still remains of his original design. I sensed that he was very intent on expanding the beauty. That he was always (and only) focused on the beauty still present, and he continually calls forth life.

“There is still beauty in the world.”

Immanuel is continually searching for that beauty, for any scrap that remains of his original intent. “Where is the beauty, that I can expand it?”

Whether for a person or any piece of his creation, he delights in this task of searching, finding, expanding and refashioning to “bring beauty out of ashes.” He is laser-focused on the positives, and nothing is beyond his ability or desire to make something beautiful out of it, whether by expanding or fixing or refashioning the positive that’s there.

That’s what Immanuel is always about, even in this time of cataclysmic ruination. Especially in this time of cataclysmic ruin. Jesus has faced down evil, and he is now continually in the process of bringing life out of death. That started with his resurrection and continues on, until the climax when there will be a new heaven and new earth.

The restoration happens on the micro and macro scale. It happens in in all areas of creation and also in persons. He showed me how he is doing that in my husband, looking for the positives and calling them forth. I’m invited into that process of searching and calling forth, but the primary task is not mine. It’s God’s.

Yet I have a part in it. The words “pray attention,” that I originally heard in a podcast quoting part of an essay by Glennon Doyale, came again to me.

Participating with God by “praying attention” to his work of looking for and calling out the positive is a holy act. It requires attention, and connection with God. Not just paying attention, but praying attention.

Religious people are told that God is all about making us holy. Today, Immanuel gave me a new definition of holiness: beauty.

I love that way of looking at it! There is intrinsic beauty and worth in each person, and every part of creation. I saw today that this attraction to beauty we all have is innate; it is God-given and is, indeed, the stamp of God in our divine design. God is holy, and that means he is beautiful beyond compare. Everything in creation that is beautiful—including these pink crabapple blossoms—carry that stamp of the Creator’s beauty.

In my mind’s eye there arose the image of an orchid next. Beautiful, delicate flowers, strange plant. My attention was drawn to the roots. So weird how the roots grow up rather than always down. Before I understood this, I thought the green root you see on the left was a stem that should have produced flowers. I was disappointed when no blooms appeared, because I didn’t understand what I was seeing. Not until I did some research did I learn about how orchid roots grow up, to take in the nutrients from the air.

And who knew that those dried-up looking roots in the pot still had life in them?

Today it was impressed on me: I don’t always know what I’m looking at. Something may appear unappealing or even lifeless to me, yet it turns out to be life-giving, like the aerial and dried roots of the orchid.

Immanuel was asking me, “Can you trust that I know what you’re looking at, and that I know what brings life and what does not?”

Isn’t that the question of the hour? We don’t always know what we’re looking at. I still don’t understand why my neighbor’s tree isn’t flowering normally. Certainly in this cataclymic global pandemic, we don’t know fully what we’re looking at. But can we trust that God does, and that he is searching out any scrap of beauty and bringing it forth to expand it, refashion it, return it to his original, intended design?

I don’t know about you, but that brings me tremendous hope and peace. Thank you, Immanuel.

Addendum: My friend who facilitated this Immanuel Prayer commented afterward that she was blown away by how much significance came from such a simple starting image of crabapple blossoms. Isn’t that an example of the very thing he showed me? Immanuel laser-focuses on the beauty and expands it, adorning it with significance.

If you would like help with healing any “heart issues” that are coming up for you, or to try Immanuel Prayer, check out and look for the links at the top that pertain to your interests.

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Margaret Brown

This is helpful for me in understanding how to relate to people who aren’t perfect, like my adult children. I’ll focus on the beauty in them. So long I looked for what needed discipline or correction.

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