I like to draw trees, especially bare winter trees. Looking through spires of trees whose leaves have fallen is mesmerizing and fascinating. And finding an old gnarly fellow with bent and crooked branches is particularly captivating. There, in a forgotten clearing, he stands, seemingly endless and timeless. What stories could he tell? What wildlife has he sheltered during his more well-dressed seasons? How patiently he waits for his fruit-bearing time.
I’m not completely sure why I love bare trees, but they do speak to me. It’s as though their strength, structure and character are fully revealed by the hard winter days. They may seem to some to be diminished without their luxurious foliage, but to me they are beautiful.
Do our winter seasons reveal our character? I believe so. Usually, it is when things are hard that who we truly are comes forth. It’s easy to put forward a veneer when situations and circumstances are sunny and care-free, when what lies beneath may be fraught with disquiet and even anxiety.
Scriptures tell us in several places to seek the Lord with a whole heart, and this is our destiny. We were created to be whole and not fractured, people of integrity and humility. The Lord says in Jeremiah 24:7, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” It is the work of the Lord that our hearts are made whole, and we will only know this wonder of restored innocence through a deeper, richer life of regular repentance and complete acceptance of His forgiveness.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
In this passage we see a progression. We find that character is produced when the suffering we encounter is experienced through faith in His grace and hope of His glory. And this kind of sight increases our endurance. We learn to persevere, stay the course, stand firm. Our character begins to resemble His character, as we daily exchange our cares for the power of His love, the fruit of His Spirit.
Then, when harsh and bitter winds blow, we stand, rooted and grounded in His love, lifting our branches heavenward, to the praise and glory of the Father.
Until next week, beloved, rest in His character and give Him access to your fractured heart.