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A lesson from a ruined postcard

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The weather that we have experienced so far this winter has me harkening back to our first Missouri snowfall, last winter. Being Texans, it was a big deal to us, and since it was a very mild winter last year, it was the only accumulating snowfall that we had as a family.

As I gazed out of our living room window that day, the scene before me seemed like a photograph on a postcard. The yard, the street, the trees, the parked cars – everything was covered with the most beautiful blanket of snow. The view was quiet and serene, and the smooth, featureless landscape wordlessly communicated a feeling of perfection and beauty with every little sparkling ice crystal that caught the light of the sun.

Then, in what seemed a mere eye blink – maybe two blinks – the postcard was ruined. Instead of a smooth, featureless perfection, the yard had taken on the image of a battleground. The surface was gutted and "chunked up" – piles here, holes there – my previous painting of serenity had become a canvas of chaos.

The cause soon became evident. My four children had found their way to the yard.

As they played and tumbled and threw and kicked, I'll admit it, I silently lamented what had been lost and would not be regained; that pristine, picturesque perfection, and the blessing of having such a beautiful image to gaze upon. Yet, thankfully, it hit me moments later; the order and perfection were gone, but a greater blessing was now present – in the laughing and joyous faces of the children with which Almighty God had blessed my family.

How often are children seen that way by our society – and, if we're honest, by ourselves – as something that "ruins" the scene outside the window?

"They get in the way!"

"They slow me down!"

"My career is suffering!"

"I can't get my work done!"

Yes, children can make a "mess" of life sometimes, and the "serenity" of life is often disturbed by cries and fights and bruised knees and the like. Children can break our hearts like nobody's business. They can disappoint us and frustrate us to no end. They can be such a "burden" that some in society would rather you abort a child than allow yourself to become so "encumbered."

"Why would you want to ruin your life now, when you're just getting your act together?"

The same reasoning that many use to support abortion is even used by some "ethicists" in academia to justify infanticide. Even the most natural of affections – that of a parent for a child – is evaporating from our society, as Jesus prophesied when He said that "the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). (Read our Tomorrow's World article: Abortion: a Modern Holocaust)

God does not hold such a view! "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward," says Psalm 127:3. A day is soon coming when the manner in which our society has treated its children will be addressed by their Maker, who lovingly crafted them in the womb (Psalm 139:13).

And while "cold" described the weather that day, it – thankfully – did not describe the condition of my heart, and I quickly warmed to the scene outside. Yes, the beauty of a perfectly ordered world is something to be admired. But "a heritage from the Lord" is a far greater treasure. I hope that I properly communicate to God my thanks for the heritage with which He has blessed my wife and me.

I will try to do better this winter. I will endeavor to take my joy in every postcard-perfect, snow-covered scene that presents itself outside my window. Then, when my children discover it – as they inevitably will – and "reshape" it for me, I will ask God to help me fully appreciate that scene, as well.

And to help me take even greater joy in the amazing "landscape artists" that He has so graciously given me.

  Originally Published: 26th December 2006