There’s no avoiding the heaviness around us these days. It bombards our senses, tries to dull us to the manifold generosities of God, steals our gratitude. With Valentine’s Day just days away, what better time to share the story of the night God gave me the sweetest, most unexpected gift? I share it now, decades later, in hopes that it lifts your spirits as it did mine.
Makeup was the last detail of my life I ever expected the Lord to take an interest in. After all, He’s engaged in weightier matters of the heart. My preference for Pink Pearl lip color over Luscious Ruby hardly seemed relevant in comparison to us beholding His glory and being transformed into His likeness. [i] And since I understood the glory of the Lord to have little connection with outward adornment, well then, you can imagine my shock the night He pulled out His bag of surprises.
My husband and I had invested all of our resources and energies into running our full-time prison ministry. That five-year period, though a stretch for us, was a tremendously rewarding season. We were well cared for. Every one of our needs were provided for according to God’s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. [ii]Not one meal was missed, every bill was paid on time, and more often than not, in the nick of time. Even unforeseen financial surprises like a trip to ER were miraculously taken care of. Money was tight, but our faith soared. Our confidence in God’s love and faithfulness increased and flourished with each new challenge.
That is, until the morning I squeezed my tube of Mary Kay Cosmetics face cleanser and a glob spit and sputtered into the palm of my hand. I did a quick inventory of my beauty supplies and found the storehouse was almost nil. Skin care products and cosmetics coming to an abrupt end like this had never crossed my mind. Why, these were staples in my daily routine. Like eating and sleeping, I couldn’t imagine life without them.
Tight finances, no wiggle room; would God make me do without? My heart fluttered.
God indeed provides for every need—we’d tried and proved that truth time and again—but a woman’s appearance, adorned or unadorned . . . did He really care? Did He expect me to ditch Mary Kay cleanser and scrub my face with a bar of lye soap? The thought made me shudder. And aged me ten years. The harsh reality of braving this cruel world with no props, no embellishments of any kind hit my insecurities right in the gut. So, this was it. Nada. Zilch. No more mascara to plump up weak eyelashes? No moisturizer to even out skin tones? Vanity is vanity. I still possessed plenty.
The devil was loving it.
A quick call to my Mary Kay representative, who happened to be a member of our church, eased my fears. Her shelves were loaded, her supplies abundant. Calling her wasn’t a plea for handouts; it was my weak step of faith in hopes that God would care about how I looked and come to my rescue. Without mentioning insufficient funds, I told her of my intentions to place an order soon and hung up the phone.
Then, as with all who are desperate, I hit my knees and poured out my requests to Him for the finances needed to make my purchase. With each passing day, the bottle of cleanser sputtered out what promised to be its last drop. My prayers grew more fervent, my pleas more frantic. Still, I received no answer.
Finally, in desperation, I presented the Lord with what I felt was a more-than-fair bargain. If His intentions were to reduce me to the bare basics—the naked truth—well then, gulp! at least out of sheer pity He should accommodate me by changing my heart. If I didn’t care about how I looked, it wouldn’t matter.
That next week was our church’s annual Valentines banquet—a fancy, dress-up affair with romantic lighting, soft music, good food, and an opportunity for sweethearts to rekindle the flame. For me, it marked the fateful turning of a page in my beautifying regimen. I polished off the last of my face cleanser with a sigh, applied my makeup, and braced for the ‘natural look’ God obviously decided was best for me.
The festive church setting and catching up with friends lifted my spirits some, but the sense of gloom over this new look, I just couldn’t shake. Moments before we were seated at our table, someone tapped me on my shoulder. It was my Mary Kay representative. Smiling, she handed me a gift bag. “The Lord told me to tell you, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’.”
With tears blurring my vision, I untied the red and white curly ribbons and peeked inside. Everything I’d asked for was there. The Lord had even thrown in a few extras like my favorite lip color.
Oh, the kindhearted generosity of our God! No request is beneath Him, even when the issue is beauty adorned or unadorned.
Happy Valentine’s Day.