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Lesson from a Ruined Postcard

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God reveals beauty in our lives in ways we may not always recognize. His gifts remain precious even in a world that often rejects them.

The weather we experienced this winter had me harkening back to my family's first Missouri snowfall a year ago. As former Texans, that snowfall was a wonderfully new experience for us, and was the only one we had experienced as a family during that unusually mild winter.

As I gazed out of our living room window, 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. Its surface was gutted and "chunked up"—piles here, holes there—and my previous painting of serenity had become a canvas of chaos.

I soon saw why. My four children had found their way to the yard.

As they played and tumbled and threw and kicked, I at first 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, I realized moments later that the order and perfection were gone, but a greater blessing was now present in the laughing and joyous faces of the children with whom Almighty God had blessed my family.

How often does our society—honestly, how often do we ourselves—see children as something that "ruins" the scene outside a 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. Their cries and fights and bruised knees can disturb the "serenity" of our lives. 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 would rather see 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?"

Even the most natural of affections—that of a parent for a child—is evaporating from our society, as Jesus prophesied when He said "the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). God certainly loves children: "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3). A day is soon coming when the Maker of our children, who so lovingly crafted them in the womb (Psalm 139:13), will put a stop to the awful manner in which our society has treated its children!

Thankfully, while "cold" described the weather on that picturesque winter day, it 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 give God thanks for the heritage with which He has blessed my wife and me.

And next winter, I will try to do even better. 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, too, and to take even greater joy in the amazing "landscape artists" He has so graciously given me.

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