Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Week Ago: Bare Trees, Clay Jars.

Saturday, Dec. 24. Christmas Eve.

My brothers were out kayaking, my parents out singing carols for a candlelight service. Presents wrapped and, refusing to stay in the house alone any longer, I got into my car and headed for the mountains.

The higher I climbed, the more mountains came into view. I could see them clearly through the bare branches of winter trees. Higher and higher.

I parked right on the NC/TN border, got out and hiked up to the top of my favorite bald. It was cold...breathtakingly cold. The sun was on its way to setting and the world just seemed to open up all possessed beauty before me. And trees - winter trees. Their branches bare...mere skeletons of what they once were. But beauty - so much sky and green and vast stretches of mountain that I could see through their bare branches.

And it hit me.

2 Cor. 4:7 is the biblical verse that compares us to clay jars. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us..." -- broken, cracked, fragile jars. Put a light inside of a jar. The greater the crack, the greater the light that is shone. The more broken, the more the treasure inside is exposed.

I had only heard this spoken of (in this specific way) only a few weeks before.
(Check that out here.)

And on this day, I could see it in the bareness of winter trees.

Fall is beautiful, but speaks of things dying. Passing away. The colors fade to brown and join the earth. All that is left are these bare branches, these colorless limbs. The attention is no longer on the shape of the leaves, the size of the fruit it bears, the fullness of its' leafy growth.

Now it is bare. But now it is free to reveal beauty greater than itself. Through its' branches, there are endless skies, the poetry of the sea, grandeur of the mountains.

And so we see - brokenness reveals beauty. Hallelujah.

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