Keep Looking Up!

Resting Assured in the Winter Seasons of Life

Gloria Nelson

12/22/20233 min read

selective focus photography of cardinal bird on tree branch
selective focus photography of cardinal bird on tree branch

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Matthew 6 : 26

As I walked toward the kitchen on this gray winter morning, I gazed out at the dull outdoors. The dry, mild temperatures have left the Minnesota landscape looking lifeless. The greens of summer and the golden hues of Autumn have long since left us. Yet, the shimmering white snow has failed to arrive to blanket the somber tones of a dormant land.

No evergreens are nearby, so it’s only lifeless branches I see. Focusing on the trees, I notice a tiny speck of red, way up high. There he is, Mr. Cardinal! Sitting stone still, giving the brown landscape a vibrant burst of color. His majestic scarlet feathers can be seen from a distance. (I suspect he is waiting for me to reload the bird feeder with seeds since my naughty squirrel has drained the feeder with ravenous speed.)

While I am cozy warm in the house, he sits out in the cold. He doesn’t feel the cold though because God has clothed him in a scarlet plumage that is as practical as it is beautiful. I am struck, again, by the vibrant burst of color against winter’s muted backdrop. He radiates warmth and beauty. He sits as a reminder of what exists beyond what we often see.

Had I not taken the time to look out into the woods, I would have missed this little guy and the opportunity to reflect on his presence. Weighing in at less than 2 oz., the Cardinal is a reminder of our powerful and loving God who is endlessly creative and loving. The plants and creatures that He has made can never be outdone by people. We copy His creation. We distort what He made, and we create from our own imagination. Some of our work is lovely, yet it pails to His. Try though we may, nothing is ever as beautiful as His handiwork.

The crown of His creation is US. We are complex creatures formed in the "Imago Dei”, the image of God. Though we live on earth, we come from the heavenly realm. Our value is so great that God would not let us go, even when we betrayed Him. When we betrayed His Son, Jesus, He would not let go. As we love our children, so God loves us. Though we are made for relationship with God, we often search for satisfaction everywhere but in Him. How heartbreaking for our Heavenly Father. How great our loss.

Even more than the majestic Cardinal, we are crafted with awe-inspiring detail to reflect The Eternal and to enjoy The Everlasting God. No matter your circumstances, you are a beautiful image bearer. If your life lacks warmth and beauty, if you are living in a season of loss, or feeling lost in the grayness of loneliness, look up and think of the Cardinal. Remember why He can perch himself out in the cold, unafraid and warm from within. He was created in perfection for his life in the wild. He is cared for by the Creator God.

We, too, are created in perfection and cared for by the Creator God. It can feel like we are living in the wild; fending for ourselves, feeling alone. We never are alone, though. God is with us. ”Immanuel“, we sing at Christmas, “God with us”. Even in the winter of our lives, He is with us. It may be cold and dark, but His eternal beauty is there among the lifeless landscape of life. In the coldest of times, we are provided for by His warmth and His provision.

If you are in a winter season of life, rest assured that all is not lost. New life will come. Your life will bloom again, you can weather the season with the warmth of Jesus’ love. Warm yourself by worshipping the King of Kings. Hold on to the promise of eternal life in Him. Like cuddling up by a warm fire on a cold winter’s day, hunker down with Jesus, the lover of your soul.

Merry Christmas, everyone!