The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Winter trees

How can there be life in a winter landscape, so bleak, so barren? A white winter wasteland, bare trees with brown branches, and a solemn stillness speak of death, of emptiness. Yet this is life itself, where what we see isn't always what we get, and where God's quiet work changes all that we know.

The magic of new-fallen snow is its pristine beauty. As each flake falls from the sky, it joins others to cover our imperfect lives. Before long, the patches of dead grass are covered, the litter in the curb is hidden, and the rough edges of life are smoothed over. It glistens with grace. It is God who is making all things new again. It is God who transforms the ugliness of our world into a glimpse of what is to come. Eventually, the snow melts away revealing our truth — until it snows again, revealing God's.

And what of those tired trees? Sins, like dead leaves, have fallen away to reveal our bare souls, forgiven. Our limbs reach upward toward heaven asking God to save us, renew us. God obliges, growing longer branches to touch others and deeper roots to steady us in life's storms. God greens our souls and we burst forth new leaves. We sin, we wither and God drops our leaves again so we can grow from within. This is real growth, lasting growth. Another ring is added to the trunk of life.

Let us try to see our winter world with God-like eyes, knowing that rebirth can only come from that which is touched by God's grace. God, who counts the hairs on our head, knows when a sparrow falls and pulls spring out of winter, will surely bless us even more. 


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