A Picture Within A Picture
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)
As I followed the concrete path during my early a.m. stroll, I was privy to see the birth of morning unfold. Beneath her radiance lay green pastures, still waters, and nature giving praise to its creator. The trees were stretching upward, standing tall; the birds were singing and soaring; and a swarm of dragonflies were buzzing right along. I stared at the vibrant colors of daybreak knowing that what I was beholding, initially, was a blank canvas in the infinite mind of God, the greatest artist this world would ever know.
Continuing on in my walk, I was soon baffled at the impending artwork a mere ten steps away from the aforementioned view; even the melodious sounds of life that filled the air ceased to exist. I had come to an inset, a picture within a picture, where it seemed apparent that the artist’s palette of brilliant colors had been exhausted. Suddenly, the breathtaking view on my picture perfect trail shifted from awesome to awful.
Within moments I stood before an unsightly art exhibit; a painted backdrop of multi-shades of grays, mossy greens, and black hues flaunting the deepest, darkest, murkiest waters conceivable. Interestingly, much of the foliage in the background was clothed in green attire, but the trees closest to the murky waters seemed victimized by a premature winter; dead trunks with brittle and decrepit branches reaching up from a stagnant quicksand pond.
What I saw was equivalent to the image branded in those who have witnessed the bloodstained sidewalks of rival gangs or the emptiness of a barren woman’s womb. Then something caught my eye that would eventually shift my perception again, this time from awful to amazing. In the middle of all that deadness was life, and had I continued to be enthralled by the lifeless matter, I would have missed it: A crane was roosting on a branch right in the center of the tree.
Back home in Virginia, there is a similar inset that I drove by almost everyday and its marshlands, too, became the resting place for perching cranes. I must admit, their still-life pose oftentimes caused me to mistake the longed-neck, gray bodied birds for an extension of the tree limbs. But here, there was no mistaken this crane for a rickety, old tree branch because this crane was completely white.
At first, I couldn’t understand why such a beautiful creature would even consider visiting what resembled a toxic wasteland; then I began to get a spiritual parallelism that amazed me more than the view itself. The green pastures and still waters represented the kind of life God has for our indulgence. Yet, so many of us are buried in the murky waters of lifelessness; we are drowning in the quicksand pond of financial woes, employment blues, and stagnant dreams. We look at our surroundings and all we can see is the hopelessness. In our minds, we imagine the beautiful picture of a land flowing with milk and honey but in reality, we’re stuck existing in the desolate wasteland… an inset life- a picture within a picture.
Though a panoptic view of our past, current, and future endeavors might appear bleak, if we can zoom in on Jesus, the Living Word and not focus on the dead things in our yesterday, we can embrace the mercies of God today which keep us from being consumed! The more I looked at that white crane, which was like a light in a dark place, the more I thought about how Jesus, the light of the world, visited me in my darkest, murkiest, most sinful days of my being and He gave me life, hope and a future through His merciful gift of salvation.
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