Can you see what is hidden?

tree1Looking at trees in the winter mesmerizes me as much as watching the ocean push and pull sand with the tides or following the embers of a campfire as they drift into the heavens. After dropping their leaves, trees in the winter show their truth as their branches reach into the white skies of winter.

Joyce Kilmer wrote, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” I can’t help but wonder when people read those lines if they think about the beautifully colored leaves of green the spring followed by crimson and gold in the fall. I concede that trees are beautiful throughout the summer and fall, and lovely as they bear buds in the spring.

But in winter we see the true form of the trees. We see the broken branch from a girl who may have climbed onto a branch just shy of being able to support her. We see the scars of woodpeckers searching for meals. We see the twisted branches crossing one another, dancing in the wind. Trees show in winter their truth, the essence of who they are and how they’ve grown.

Is it any wonder that our first sustenance came from tree?

 Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. ~ Genesis 1:29

The trees, including the Tree of Life, happily sustained Adam and Eve in the garden, until they ate the fruit from the only tree that was forbidden and committed the first sin. How they looked at the world, and how they looked at each other, changed in that moment.

What do we see when we look at each other? Our first instinct is to look on the surface at his hair, at his clothes, at the things that surround him. We combine what we see with how she acts and what she says to form an opinion of what type of person she is. By doing this, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. When trying to understand each other, we need to strip away the surface and look at our hearts. Within a soul is where you will see the scars and scrapes, and tears and breaks who has made that person the beautiful soul she is today.

However, we tend to not show people our true selves, our tattered souls. We hide behind our outer shells and fancy window dressing, and hope that no one notices the scars and dings that our lives has inflicted upon us over the years. We believe that if our outside looks good, no one will look too deeply into our flaws and failings and see us for who we are.

But by living in that life, we are not being true to ourselves. We are not living our Godly lives. Almost from the beginning, we have tried to hide from God and each other when we have done wrong. Adam and Even hid from God after eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Cain tried to hide from God what he had done after he killed Abel. Jonah tried to hide from God after given a task to do. All of these ended badly. God knows who we are, because he formed us. In Psalm 139, we are told that God knows us completely.

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. … My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. ~ excerpt from Psalm 139:13-16

He knows the battles we have fought and where our journey has taken us in our lives. If God loves and accepts us from the depths of our soul, shouldn’t we be honest with each other and share that soul with others? Shouldn’t we do our best to seek to discover other people’s true souls that we may learn to love each other better?

tree2

With each encounter, we should seek to understand one another’s souls. We must look past the surface beauty to search the truth of what is shown on the outside. Only then, can we learn from each other and love each other without reservation.

We all have our flaws, and no tree is perfect. But God has formed each of our souls in His own image, which makes us wonderful and beautifully made. As we head into the new year, my hope is that we treat each other as the Holy souls God made us. For He is wise beyond measure, and He has given us each other to help us grow in wisdom and understanding.

This winter as you gaze outside your window at the seemly barren and lifeless trees, remember that though they may be twisted and broken, they still are beautiful. And so are you.

Categories: Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What kind of pumpkin are you?

Painted pumpkins gained popularity a few years ago.

Painted pumpkins gained popularity a few years ago.

I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years around Halloween. No longer are kids cutting into the pumpkins to scoop out the goo before cutting in a face and setting it aglow. Kids are sometimes now asked to use paint to make their jack-o’-lanterns in October. No cutting involved.  I’ve even seen pictures of pumpkins decorated with duct tape and glitter and ribbons. Again, no cutting of the pumpkin involved.

One of the best children’s sermons I’ve heard each October relates being a Christian to carving pumpkins at Halloween. When we carve a pumpkin, we wash off all the dirt from the pumpkin patch, cut a hole in it, scoop out all the yucky stuff, and light the inside for the world to see. As a Christian, God scoops out all the yucky stuff in our souls, our sins of greed and envy and pride and more.

 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. ~ Ecclesiastes 9:3

One new trend in pumpkin decorating is to use duct tape.

One new trend in pumpkin decorating is to use duct tape.

Then God lights up our souls so we can see the good in ourselves and live in the light with him. God loved us so much that he gave us his son to walk amongst us and teach us for a brief time, and those teachings still are with us today in the Bible.

Studying what Christ taught us through parables and stories gives us a light in our souls that we can carry into the world. Although he is no longer with us physically on this earth, we still carry His light into the world. We light a candle and place it in our pumpkins in October, but Christ transfers his light into the world through us.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6

Decorating a pumpkin with paint or duct tape or anything else may make it pretty, even beautiful. But it does nothing to help light the darkness. Likewise, if we say we are Christians and go to church each Sunday but do not live our faith every day, we are not lighting the world with Christ’s love. We are simply pretty Christians in name only.

I understand the trend of decorating the pumpkins instead of using knives that could be unsafe and cause accidents. But isn’t that what Christ was about? In his teachings, he often disrupted people’s ways of thinking, and tried to get them to look at the world in a different and more loving way. He started Christianity by being messy and not being afraid to cut through and scoop out the bad of the world to find our hearts.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  ~ Matthew 5:14-16

Let God carve out your bad stuff and spread light to the world through you.

Let God carve out your bad stuff and spread light to the world through you.

What kind of Christian do you want to be? Will you be the pretty pumpkin who sits on a shelf and does nothing to light up the darkness of the world?

Or will you allow God to scoop out your sadness and misery and sins, and put a candle of love in our soul to share with the world?

The choice is yours.

Categories: Faith | Leave a comment

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