I just finished reading Radiant by Marian Jordan (which I would recommend to those who love the Word and a great challenge). I read it on my nine-hour van ride to the mountains of New Mexico with my family.
As I gazed at the mountains in the distance, they looked so insignificant. When we ventured closer, the sun began to shine on the tops of the snow-covered masses, displaying their majesty. Then it donned on me. The radiance from the sun made all the difference. When clouds blocked the sun or the mountains, the mountains were no more than big rocks. But the sunshine caused the mountains to glisten in the distance.
Then I remembered another illustration God whispered to me a few months ago, when ice covered Oklahoma. Just like the snow on the mountains, the ice that blanketed the trees created a breathtaking sight. The brilliant reflection of light from the ice only occurred when the sun shone on the trees. Again, the sun made all the difference. It was then, God whispered, “You are like that tree.” Then I began to ponder.
Believers in Jesus, we were like the dormant, naked trees of winter before we understood Jesus’ forgiveness and accepted His love through faith. When we received God’s covering for us (Jesus’ blood), in the tree illustration, it’s like God covered us with ice (faith). God caused the transformation, a new life in Jesus. A life with a new purpose: to reflect the Son (Jesus) just as the ice reflects the sun. The sun/Son makes all the difference.
Marian Jordan wrote, “The ultimate transformation that occurs in the human heart is when we begin to desire the glory of God. That is the essence of becoming a new creation in Christ…The old person…now new, with new desires to reflect the radiance of Christ, His light, His goodness, His love, His faithfulness to a dark and hurting world.”1
In the iced tree (not tea) illustration, the dead tree doesn’t get any glory. Likewise, in our Jesus-covered lives, we shouldn’t get any glory. In fact, the Bible says in Matt. 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (emphasis added) (NASB).”
Also, the ice can represent trials and growing faith, as well (versus initial faith in Jesus). As we encounter various trials, God allows more “ice on our limbs.” So we have a choice. If we turn to Jesus (sun) during our trial, He uses the test to allow Him to shine through us. The ice melts enough for our limbs to stay strong, and our faith effects others around us (fresh water). However, if we focus on our trial (heavy ice), our limbs of faith can bend and possibly break. Defeated, we are not spiritually useful to those around us. In fact, it may take a while for our branches to grow again (faith). Remember, beauty comes from the ice (trials).
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (NASB).”
And finally, our faith will grow by spending time in the sun (with the Son). Marian Jordan wrote, “Radiance requires exposure to His presence. Real and lasting transformation occurs when we spend time with Him, beholding His glory and in turn reflecting His character.”2
Are you a dead tree or an iced-covered tree?
Are you in a trial you are trying to handle yourself?
Does your life reflect Jesus’ character?
Are you spending more time exposed to the Word or the world?
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” Matt. 5:14.
To read another reflection of mine while driving in the mountains, http://stacyneus.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-mountain.html
1) Marian Jordan, Radiant: Living as Light in a Dark World (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 13.
2) Marian Jordan, Radiant: Living as Light in a Dark World (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 32.