Friday, February 06, 2009

The God of Winter

I am not a big fan of Winter. As a 'thin skinned' Georgia girl who enjoys being outside in the sunshine, Winter just makes me feel cooped up and weighed down by all the extra stuff: hats, jackets, socks, gloves.

This week, however, I have acquired an appreciation for one aspect of the season I had not previously considered: the beauty of the barren trees. I live in a neighborhood of 50-60 year old homes near a river. The trees are old, majestic, deeply rooted and firmly established. Yet, it is only when they are stripped of their leaves that you can fully appreciate their shapes.

In the last few days, I have been struck by their dark, gnarled, strangely shaped limbs against the clear blue sky. What stories those limbs seem to tell of the twisted road to survival many of these trees have undergone. Their limbs reach for the sun in whatever way they can find to get there.

For some of the trees, reaching for light has required growing straight out horizontally--away from the pack--before they are able to start growing up. Others seem to have been able to always grow vertically, with little or no obstruction. Still others have wacky, inconsistent growth patterns.

As I study their trunks I see many places where limbs once were. These were the ones who didn't make it, or had to be removed completely for the sake of the growth of the others and the overall health of the tree. Some have obviously been pruned recently, leaving them in an unattractive state now, but clearing the way for new growth when Spring rolls around.

I have not been able to escape the parallel to our own lives--the pain of being pruned for our own long term good, the sadness that comes with loss, doing whatever it takes to grow and reach for life sustaining Light. But mostly, I am struck by the beauty of it all when it is stripped down to its natural form. The beauty is because of, not in spite of, the imperfection.

We were designed to live lives that point to our Father. We reach daily for the life His Light brings to our weary hearts. When we are all made up in our equivalent of the blossoms and the leaves, we are often hiding the most glorious part of ourselves...our essence, our stories, our hearts.

The older I get the more I appreciate authenticity. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of the beauty of 'real life' today and how even scraggly old limbs point to your magnificence.


Colored With Memories said...

so beautifully written, jmom! i love how you can tie God's truth to your everyday observations.

have you considered doing a devotional book?!? seriously!

Mark and Jill Robertson said...

We have just gone through an ice storm and my preacher just taught on that same subject of "pruning" John 15:2
See my next to last post.
Then I see it again in your post-- how fitting, I love when God brings something to your attention.

Sincerely Anna said...

I was just thinking about this today during a really tough moment with the Lord. I've been couped up for a while with a broken foot (plus a hyperactive 6 yr old boy and just-walkin' baby girl!) and feeling like this winter was weighing me down - to a place where I was resisting any growth that God has in store for me just because I'm plain grumpy. Anyway, during my tearful quiet time I looked out the window to see those barren trees. Then I read your post. All I can say is thanks for writing about something God inspired you to think about. It blessed me. Have a great weekend!

Meaghan said...

all creation really does sing glory to the living God doesn't it?!?! that's a beautiful illustration. really, how do you have time to come up with such beautiful posts every day? i barely eek out a paragraph!

p.s. have you ever thought about removing word verification? i'd comment so much more... xoxo ;-)

Beki said...

So good.....thanks for sharing!! And I second the comment about have you considering writing a devotional book? You really should just go ahead and do it w/ all of your "free" time :) Seriously though, you could just read through your posts and use them with additional scriptures added for "deeper quiet times." Just a thought! Your God given ability to see the world and compare it to "real life" is inspiring!!!