The drive west of the Texas Hill Country on I-10 is, well, just plain unappealing. There’s really nothing to look at. And when we’re in seasons of drought (which is a perpetual season around here) it goes from unappealing to just plain ugly in a lot of places.
One of the least-pleasing-to-the-eye places is Sonora…at least on the surface. As I was making that drive this week, something struck me as I drove through Sonora. The land is flat, rough, some patches of color, but lots of dead spots. Then I remembered a family day trip we did a couple of years ago to Sonora. Yes, we went there on purpose. No, we didn’t break down and get stuck there. We actually left home with Sonora as our intentional final destination. To visit the Caverns of Sonora. It was a great trip. The temperature above the surface was hot, like most days in are in south Texas in late summer. Everything above ground was everything I really don’t like about Texas summers. And made me question why on earth I thought this little day trip was a good idea.
Then we went underground. Within almost no time we were walking in places that have never been touched by sunlight. And they were beautiful places. Underground was significantly cooler than above ground. Underground you could see how God allowed this beautiful, natural wonder to form over years and years. And you could see fragile, vulnerable places that weren’t safe for people to go near. And you could see places that were once beautiful that vandals had attempted to destroy. The tour that took us a couple of hours allowed me to see some of the most beautiful of God’s creation.
And then it was over. And we had to come back above ground. To the hot, totally unappealing landscape of Sonora.
This week, making that drive struck me differently than it has before. I saw what I always see. And even thought about the caverns like I always do. But then I thought about how that contrast between the landscape and what’s directly underneath is so much like so many of us.
On the outside, we may appear rough; our personalities may appear brash or abrasive. Our outward appearance may be a reflection of how weathered life has left us. Our personalities may be unappealing and unattractive at times. People may look at us and only see our past, our failures, our mistakes.
But inside…that’s where the beauty lies.
Inside is the evidence of the work that God is doing. Inside is the evidence of all that God has healed, restored. Inside is the evidence of the ugly broken parts that God has carved away and replaced with beauty. See, just like those caverns, what the world sees from the outside is a stark contrast from what lies on the inside. What we see and what God sees are so totally different. What I see when I look at someone is sometimes nothing like what I could see if I’d take time to go just below the surface.