Driving home a few nights ago as the sun was fading out of the sky, I was in awe of the stark beauty of winter trees against the streaky, watercolor sunset. When the sun is almost out of sight and the clouds are illuminated with colors so vibrant and rich, the silhouette of the trees is bold and beautiful. The branches are bare, no leaves to hide the setting sun from view, just dark shoots of wood in harsh lines against the soft sky.
We are those trees. There are seasons of our lives where we are barren. We feel stripped of the things that make us beautiful. We feel dead, naked, exposed, far from our fullest potential.
But it isn’t about us. It’s about the radiant, glorious Light of all the world. It’s about not just the sun, but the Son of our living God. And when are lives are seen up against His, it isn’t the nakedness and the bareness of our lives that stands out, it’s the radiance of His shining through us. It’s a season where we feel like we aren’t offering the world much, we aren’t bearing fruit, we aren’t seeing the growth, but He is using those times when there is less in the way competing for His attention, and He is shining unbelievably through us. Can you picture that?
It’s not about us. It’s not about our best efforts and our best fruit and our best seasons of growth. Those make us who we are, yes. But our life has always come from the Son, like a tree’s life has always come from the bright and shining sun. Our growth has always come from taking root in Him. Our beauty has always come from His beauty radiating out of our souls. Our light has always been a tiny flicker of His mighty fire.
Our dead branches stand out in stark contrast against His beauty, His glory, His perfection. But that contrast is what makes us human, what makes Him divinity. We are His, and He makes us glorious when He shines through us, even in our seasons of winter.