Thursday, October 17, 2013

Seasoning with Grace

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It was a cold, brisk, sunny fall day and it was a Friday. Two of my favorite things. The kids had nearly completed their seventh week of school and we were all feeling a need to take a day off and regroup a little. After chores were completed, four of the kids headed out the door to go work on the fort they had been busily building in the woods. Their older sister and I decided to take the opportunity to catch up on laundry and a little house cleaning. We cranked up the music and got busy.




I love days like this! There is something about the beauty of a sunny fall day that cheers me up and gives me energy. I decided to head outside with my camera and capture some of the beauty of the day.
As I stepped out my front door the colors on the trees nearly took my breath away. It’s amazing to me how bright and beautiful dying leaves are. Just before they fall off the trees, they are in their most glorious state and I thought about what a parallel to life that is. The older we get, the more experiences we have under our belt. We may have lost the initial budding of beauty that was evident in the spring of our lives, but the experiences of life develop a different kind of beauty in us if we let them. Marriage, raising children, infertility, unwanted divorce, relationships of all kinds, work, responsibilities, losses of loved ones, rejection, loss of job, location changes, taking care of sick family members and sometimes aging parents or whatever else may be written on the pages of our lives, all blend together to tell a unique story.

 

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Out of pain, a new kind of inner beauty is born. Out of struggles, strength is obtained. Out of mourning, grace and compassion are developed, out of consequences for our choices and actions, wisdom is gained and out of a combination of all of these, character is formed.
As we grow older, we change in depth of character and in physical beauty. When I was younger, I thought about outer beauty all the time. If my hair wasn’t just right, or I didn’t have the most updated clothes to choose from, my life felt out of control. I felt “ugly” and insecure. As I have grown older, my outlook on that has changed. Sure, I still find it important to take care of my physical appearance and I love new, updated clothes, but those aren’t the only things that matter. It’s not the number one priority anymore and how I look on the outside no longer defines who I am or my security level. If I am dripping with sweat after a workout and I have to head out the door to get my kids to piano lessons on time followed by a stop at the store, that’s just part of my day. It’s not the “life or death” situation it seemed to be when I was younger. My priorities have changed. Getting my workout in and being responsible with my health, for example, is more important than heading out the door looking perfect. Feeding my soul each day, from God’s Word is top priority and allowing Him to form character in me and change me into His image, is my strongest desire. Allowing Him to define me has made such a difference in my thinking, priorities and choices and the wisdom He is developing in me is much more beautiful than any outward appearance could ever be.
“Gray hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the way of righteousness.”
Proverbs 16:31
My Grandpa stood about six feet tall and he had a head full of gorgeous white hair. I loved to look at him. There was something about him that drew me to him. He was wise, kind, gentle and strong all at once. He was a quiet man with a witty sense of humor and he was also a gentle, caring, compassionate, consistent leader. I remember mornings at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. After breakfast he would pull out his Bible and everyone was expected to sit still at the table and listen quietly while he read to us. Sometimes we would snuggle into Grandma’s lap while he read and the love around their little table was so sweet. He usually read a Proverb, a Psalm and sometimes something out of the old or New Testament and then he prayed with us. He prayed for people he cared about and he really did care. I heard it in his prayers as he petitioned God on the behalf of others. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the impact he had on my life was huge. This quiet, gentle man who just loved Jesus was gently pointing me in the direction of my Savior every time I had the pleasure of spending time with him. You see, my Grandpa was like those beautiful fall leaves. He was seasoned with grace, full of character, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, love, grace, and strength. He had allowed the story God had written in his life to mold him into something so attractive that he just drew people to him by simply being in the room.

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The fall leaves in our woods around our house don’t say anything. They just quietly adorn the trees pointing us toward heaven and the God who made us. They are the crowning glory of those trees just as my Grandpa’s beautiful white hair topped his handsome head.

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