I am embracing winter for probably the first time in my life. At least the first time for a Maine winter. I usually braced for winter. I hated winter. It's a new twist in the story of my life. A literal work of God on my heart.
I reflected on this today as it is my late brother's 38th birthday. Been gone five and half years almost. 1 year 4 months and 27 days older than I. It wasn't a day of sadness. It made me think about what God has done in the biggest "winter" of my life.
Winter used to mean grayness, unnecessary suffering - something to be "lived" through and loathed. I guess I applied that to many areas of my life I didn't like. Just get through.
And then there's a winter so brutal that leaves you so wrecked there's no pretending. There's no, "Well, God wants you to have joy (I know He does)." There's no just slapping a Bible verse on it. It's a cut so deep it tears through your soul ripping you to the core of your being. Where death is more welcoming than living. It's brutal and it's real. And you just don't get it until you've been there. There's no fixing yourself. I mean, you could actually just pretend on the surface whilst you slowing implode. People do that. Or slowly harden your heart with bitterness. Yup, I could see that happening. Could have been me. Could put on the church smile and manicure your life to appear whatever you perceive everyone wants out of you.
But true healing comes from the Lord. It can't be analyzed or prescribed. It can't be timed, forced or manipulated.
That brings me back to winter. I used to see only the horrible parts of winter. Now I see so much beauty. Where there were masses of greenery masking the gray and hard bodies of trees, now are exposed for everyone to see. Not that we have to be exposed to everyone. But I am learning to welcome the Lord exposing things to me in my life. Imperfections and scars are shameful. A healing season after a brutal winter can change your perception. There's clarity and definition in the winter season. The snow and ice that frame the branches offers a clean visual of straight and crooked lines. So much beauty. Each tree is beautiful. It's battle in the wind, drought and rain has made it unique. It's imperfections can bring a greater depth of beauty. All of this can be seen in the winter.
I am so thankful for the healing God has done in my life. I wouldn't have understood on this level without a deep shattering and breaking of my life. But like snow makes everything clean and pure - his love and righteousness cover me. He shows me new things are to come. And while there are times I am crippled with pain - like when I see my brother's name chiseled into a grave stone - there are still so many things that cripple me. I embrace that pain and thank God that I have His power, His life and I am still living. I want to live.
Live for my brother. He was frail. He was imperfect. But he lived out his faith in ways that some of us have never done. He got out of his comfort zone, loved people and was a doer of the Word. He helped orphans and families around the world. He didn't wait until he was perfect to do that. We have nothing to wait for. I have nothing to wait for. Just to live. For God. And I have. But on a new level. Thank You, God, that if we offer our pain, heartaches, bad decisions to You, you can make something beautiful.
Happy Birthday, Vinny. You have left a legacy. And your nephew Henry sang happy birthday to you in heaven.
Pease Family Cousins.