Part 1: Beauty In Unexpected Places

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We headed north for vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was counterintuitive as a spring break destination. We traded sandy beaches for rocky shores, ocean waves for the swells of Lake Superior, swimsuits for winter boots, and warm days for windblown snow.

Visiting family and a comfortable place to stay for free were the allure. However, we discovered so much more: the beauty of winter. The pristine snow sharpened the sky’s blue and the pine trees’ green. The cold breeze coming off the lake created intricate designs along the shore. White and gray displayed their own palettes of color. If the cold didn’t take my breath away, God’s handiwork in the winter season did!

At first glance, much in the Bible seems counterintuitive to the world’s way of thinking. “Bless those who curse you.” “Love your enemies.” “Lose your life to find your life.” Only sacrifice atones for sin. Death leads to life. These challenges to our human perspective are given clarity at the cross of Jesus Christ.

As the only perfect sacrifice, Jesus died for God’s enemies to demonstrate God’s love. In the ugliness and starkness of the cross, God wrought the everlasting beauty and glory of eternal life through Easter’s resurrection. The cross was the means and the price to provide for our salvation and the forgiveness of sins. The Easter story is our story!

May we approach and celebrate every day by thanking God who shows up with beauty in the least expected places.

(See more pictures of winter beauty in my post, Part 2: Beauty In The Least Expected Places.)

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:10

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

The Prequel to Easter

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It was already mid-March when I discovered the single snowdrop, no bigger than the tip of my little finger. It was not what I imagined when I planted the bulbs last fall. There should have been a showy display of white debuting in February. My anticipation of hope was downsized by disappointment. This snowdrop was too little, too sparse and too late.

I recognized the feeling. Obstacles and frustrations in life tend to have the same effect on me. Hope wanes. Faith urges me to cling to the promise of hope despite that which is confirmed with the senses. Still, one lonely snowdrop encompassed the possibility for more flowers to appear. Even a little hope strengthens the resolve for more abundant hope in the present.

The Old Testament is filled with prophecy for the coming Messiah. In the New Testament, many did not recognize the Messiah when confronted with God’s hope. One of my favorite exceptions is the thief crucified with Jesus. His hope was waning as he was dying. Something deep inside stirred when he talked with Jesus. He experienced hope that defied the pain in his life. He believed that Hope existed and that he wasn’t beyond Hope’s reach. Jesus’s hope did not disappoint. Luke 23:42-43 is an excerpt of that beautiful story of hope leading to redemption. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The prequel to Easter is still hope. Jesus Christ on the cross was hope defined. Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave was hope understood. Jesus Christ in our hearts is Easter’s hope realized. Easter reveals that God’s Hope is never too little, too sparse or too late.

 

Psalm 33:22

Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (King James Version.)