I now live in Montana and I spent most of my childhood years in Minnesota, so I am definitely a child of the frozen North. For the first ten years of my life we lived in Cloquet, a little town just west of Duluth and Lake Superior. We got snow— lots of snow, lake effect snow. Ice skating, ice fishing, hockey, sledding and snowmobiles— that’s how you passed the winter months in small town Minnesota.
And we did have snowmobiles, a couple of old Skidoos and the latest addition— my step dad’s pride and joy—a brand new Moto -Ski. We had a huge back yard full of pine trees, and real close by was a huge vacant lot. When I was eight or nine years old I was trusted to take the snowmobiles through the back yard, and down a short back road to an empty field nearby where we could rip around on the sleds and just have a ball.
Every time I got on the Snowmobiles several neighborhood kids would end up lined up in our back yard waiting for me to give them rides, I was usually pulling a sled that could haul a few kids, it looked like a converted dog sled— lots of fun. But sometimes it got a little annoying— having all these kids clamoring for rides.
So on one of the rounds as I was coming down the trail that wound through the trees in our back yard and saw the pile of kids waiting for a ride, I decided to be ornery and veered off the trail to avoid them and circled back through the trees. I gunned it and plowed through the low hanging snow covered branches of one the beautiful pine trees in our yard and suddenly came to a thudding stop. I had run smack into the very solid trunk of the tree, jamming my knees into the engine compartment and cracking the windshield with my Minnesota Vikings stocking cap covered head— plenty of protection for a hard headed Swede…
Anyway— the pain I felt was nothing compared to the fear I suddenly felt— I was driving the new 1970 Moto-Ski!– the one with the state of the art metal flake gold fiberglass body. Luckily it had a big metal bumper around the front which saved the fiberglass but left a big tree shaped dent in the chrome bumper.
My stepdad was none too pleased to say the least. My plea that I couldn’t see the trunk was not a real good excuse— pretty much all trees have a solid trunk no matter how light and fluffy the snow covered branches might look, otherwise they would never withstand the storms or bear up under the snow.
We, who have put our faith in Christ, who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb are clothed in brilliant beauty, we don’t often see it, especially not on ourselves because we get caught up looking at the dead dry stuff underneath. I remember one summer at that same house we spent many days raking up all the dead pine needles that had fallen under those massive pine trees, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full, until we had an enormous pile of dry needles.
But that didn’t mean the trees weren’t healthy— those dead needles were falling off to make room for new ones, a kind of natural pruning. You are always being pruned, until we go home we will always be dealing with things that need to die and make room for new life. But what we need to recognize is that, what our Heavenly Father sees is a beautiful sturdy child of the promise. A redeemed son or daughter glistening with brilliance like a a at sunrise the morning after a storm has broken, beautiful and sturdy, able to bear up in large part because you have weathered many storms, but stunningly beautiful because the Lord has graced you with that beauty.
You are stunningly beautiful to the Lord and a lot stronger than you ever realize— at least until you’re plowed into. We’ve all been plowed into far too many times— but here’s the point; you are beautiful you are strong, you are loved by the Father.
For all those who believe, the Lord doesn’t look at you and see someone who has failed miserably in keeping all his commandments, he doesn’t see someone who needs a good thumping or a heaping helping of shame. He is no longer judging you by the law— he is looking into your heart where there is beauty and life— where there is Jesus, clothing you with a beautiful white mantle, a mantle protecting a solid heart empowered by his Spirit and strengthened by standing strong through the storms of life while clinging to him.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3
To the Father we are his child, to Jesus we are his bride. We are the bride of Christ. A bride traditionally wears white, beautiful and pure but also often engendering an appearance of frailty and delicateness. But more often than not, the woman clothed in that shroud of beauty and gentleness has the heart of a lioness. Strong, independent and confidant. At least she is if her father did his job in raising her right. Because in Christ: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female…
We all need to be confident, secure in who we are and confidant in our righteousness. Our righteousness is a beautiful white robe that surrounds us, covers us, comforts us and houses a solid core, an oak of righteousness. – Is 61:3
I believe the Lord would have you hear this: Know that you are righteous; clothe yourself in righteousness, bask in its comfort, knowing that you are beautiful.