What do you see?

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Magnificent. Gorgeous. Wish you were there.

As I gazed upon the sunrise this morning, I saw before me the most brilliant and beautiful shades of pink and orange coloring the horizon. For a moment, all my stress slipped away as I stood and stared. Of course, I ran in my house and grabbed the camera in an attempt to capture the scene. The pictures did not do that sunrise justice.

I’ve always been a sunrise/sunset junkie. To me, they are sky pictures. And rest assured, if one takes shape while you are with me, I will pull you from your activities as I’m always eager to share them with someone.

As I stood there this morning alone, I remembered a loved one with whom I’ve tried to share sky pictures with many times. His consistent reply: “Oh yes, what lovely pollution.” His argument is that negative atmospheric particles (dust and dirt) create the image making it somehow less special. Funny how two individuals observing the same scene can interpret the experience so differently.

I got to thinking. Perhaps it is pollution. According to dictionary.com, pollution is “the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects.” And who creates pollution? We do, of course. Our actions, our words and our deeds go forth into the world. While these are not necessarily harmful or poisonous, we do things, and we have things done to us. It’s all out there, and it colors our world. Regardless, we the people are the ones painting the scene. The thing that leaves me in awe is what God does with our “pollution.”

In Ecclesiastes 3:11a, we are reminded, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” Sometimes the pollution in our world can weigh us down so that when we look out upon the horizon, we see the dirt, the pain, the mire. Or we can look upon the beautiful mess that is life and see the blending of lessons learned and the healing and growth that comes out of it. To me, that is priceless.

Just as I could not capture the true glory of that sunrise, I cannot put a price on the lessons I’ve learned in my life. Have I messed up? You bet. I walk with a heavy, dark past. Yet when I look out on the horizon, I realize I have not messed up so severely that God cannot straighten things out. He takes my mistakes and flaws, uses them and shines his glorious light on them. When He does, I do not see the pollution; I see a breathtaking sky picture that I’m glad I didn’t miss.

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