Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter's grace

Winter's brown-ness and bare-ness is often not seen as beautiful like spring or fall's vibrant colors.  But closer inspection usually yields quiet surprises of beauty.  The elegant profiles of deciduous trees are revealed after losing their cloaks of leaves. And the texture of the bark, the gnarliness or gracefulness of branch growth, the abandoned bird nests, and the late fall cocoons with metamorphosing caterpillars wating for the warmth of spring to burst forth as butterflies or moths, clinging fruit or seed that feed the birds in the cold months.  What beauty is added to it when a colorful bird perches there, or snow sticks to the branches making them look magical especially in the moonlight, or rain drops cling in rows, looking like a string of diamonds glistening on a gloomy day.
These are moments that stop me in my tracks and tell me to give thanks for such beauty emanating from earth's dormancy - a vision of Eden in a raindrop - and a promise of what is to come, for every seed that falls to the ground dead in winter holds the promise of new life in spring.
Promise, new life, rebirth, renewal -- all is held within the barrenness of winter, showing us that God has not abandonded us but is quietly at work in us to bring this all about for us, for the Kingdom, for His glory.
Quiet grace.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I want to be surprised

Sometimes it's as if God literally places books in my hands and says, "here, I want you to read this -- I think you're ready for it now."  I came across a book on Amazon about a week ago that caught my attention because of the cover -- it was beautiful.  I wasn't looking for it, or anything like it -- it just suddenly was there in front of me, drawing me in closer to see what the subtitle said... "A dare to live fully, right where you are."  Wow.  Did that ever strike a chord in this rusty heart of mine.
I bought three copies.  One for me and two to give away, and I hadn't even read more than the synopsis.
I just knew that God had put it in my hands, and that I was supposed to share it with others.
Now that I've had it for a few days and have actually read part of it, I know for certain why He put it in my hands.  It's about gratitude --- gratitude for the everyday, small, quickly-passing moments in our lives that are gifts from God -- as every breath we take is.
The moments of beauty that we pass quickly by, and maybe they capture a second look from us, but without stopping and giving thanks for it, we miss out on the opportunity for praise and for joy.
And these are the moments that help to make sense of the hard things, because they give us a glimpse of what life will be when Eden is restored, when sin and pain and grief exist no more.
Beauty is a gift from God, and being deliberately thankful for it whenever we see it, will bring joy that will surprise us.
I want to be surprised by joy.