Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Stripped Bare

I love the sight of a tree standing apart from others.  And when I can photograph not only that tree but also its reflection, that's even "more better," to borrow a phrase young children often use.

When I saw the tree* in this photo growing in the wetland at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in mid-February, I just had to make a photo of it. Perhaps other passersby didn't give that tree a second glance, but I did.
*There may be another tree in that cluster of trunks. I can't really tell for sure.

I think it's beautiful, even though the winter season has stripped away its greenery, exposing its basic structure and texture. My eyes delight in the many v-shapes formed as the tree grew and extended itself. And the reflection doubles my delight.

As I look at the photo I took of that tree, I think about how life often strips us down to "bare bones." When that happens, we may not feel beautiful any more, but if we allow suffering to make us rather than break us, we will exhibit a beautiful spirit.

That's the kind of beauty 1 Peter 3:3-4, NASB, prescribes for women:

And let not your adornment be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Beauty, whether seen in trees or in people, is said to be in the eyes of the beholder. Thus, we do well to remember that God sees us very differently than we and/or others see us. For example, when God sent Samuel to anoint a king for Israel, Samuel thought he had found the right man when he saw Eliab, one of the sons of Jesse. But the LORD said to Samuel:

Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7, NASB).

God sees us, stripped bare of outer trappings. He sees us as we truly are. Oh, may He delight in what He sees, and may our essence reflect Him who dwells within us.