A Winter Stream

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” - 1 Peter 4:12

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

The pine-laden fragrance of the forest’s canopy is fresh and clean as I trek up the mountainside. Cloudy grey skies overhead reflect my emotions; I guess I’ve climbed the mountain to try and escape myself. My muscles burn and the thin atmosphere steals my breath, but the challenge and sweat of the climb feel somehow cleansing, too. I loosen my scarf, take off my gloves, and sigh with relief as the chilly mountain air cools my skin.

The sound of trickling water draws my attention to a stream just down the hill. I carefully make my way amidst rocks and undergrowth, holding onto tree trunks as I descend, careful of the slippery pine needles that blanket the forest floor. The narrow brook bounces over some large rocks a few feet upstream, creating a small waterfall that penetrates the stillness of the forest. But the stream flattens and slightly widens in front of me, and the water slows to become smooth and tranquil as it moves on out of sight. It seems like a good analogy of life: rough and rocky places followed by tranquil waters that continually move on toward an unknown destination.

I lie down on a flat rock nearby, hanging my head over its leading edge that juts out over the multi-colored bed of the stream. Having been tumbled and stripped of mud by the purity of the rushing snow-melt, the pebbles of the creek bed have become a beautiful display of color magnified in the water’s clarity. I dip my hand in to take one of the prettier rocks as a memento of this journey, and I’m stung by the shock of the frigid water. At least I’m not overheated anymore, I think with a smile, drying my hand on my jeans.

Through a break in the trees across the stream, I spy a vista of far-off snowy mountains bathed in sunlight, pristine in their majesty. I think of Heaven and how distant it seems from my current circumstances…cold, grey and hurting. Softly, God whispers of the beauty He sees within my soul, just like the glory of the sun-drenched mountain peaks, and the beauty that has been revealed in the stream's colorful rocks once the mud has been stripped away. My spirits lift and I suddenly know the healing God has released in my soul in this beautiful cocoon of nature is worth every ache I will feel tomorrow as a result of my struggle to get here.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for showing me how you see me: pure and faultless through the almighty cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus. I praise you and thank you for your all-sufficient love and the perfection it brings to this life you have given me…a gift I could never earn or deserve, but given freely through your mercy and grace. I love you and give my life back to you right now in the precious and matchless name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, amen.

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