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When registering for our All District Pastors' Conference, I decided to spend my nights at our cottage and commute from there to Boyne each morning. This past Sunday evening's drive up included a stop in Frankentrost to give myself a break and visit family. By the time I reached the area I call "up north" it was dark. I went to bed wondering about the color on the trees.

Monday morning I was on the road and headed north before 7:00 a.m. It was an ugly morning - dark and rainy ... one of those days when you say, "I would rather drive in snow than something like this." The overcast was so heavy that as I arrived at Boyne Mountain I was still wondering about the color of the leaves. I had seen nothing worth admiring.

By the time I got back into my car that evening it was dark. Though the rain had stopped, clouds still filed the sky. Neither stars nor moon where visible. And if there was any beauty on the trees, it was totally hidden from me.

Tuesday morning I overslept (I tend to do that at our cottage). The rain was gone. So were the clouds. The sun was shining brightly in the sky. And the trees? I must say, they were much more beautiful than I had imagined. Bright yellows mixed with orange and red ... with green still there too. Though in normal circumstances I would have donned my sunglasses for the drive, I chose to squint for the entire hour plus ... just so that I could fully enjoy the beauty that had been hidden during the days prior.

Then I wondered to myself, "Had it been hidden those prior days, or not really there at all?" Had the leaves, perhaps, changed overnight, or had I simply been blinded by the gloom? That evening a friend who was up north for the weekend told me how he had been admiring the colors over the entire weekend! Truly, the beauty had been there the entire time.

Oh that I would have the ability to see this reality every day! Not so much the colors on the trees, but oh that I had the ability to see the beauty of my Lord Jesus every day! Why is it that so often all I see are gloom and doom? On those days has he taken his beauty away from the earth? Is he withholding it from me? Or am I just unable - even refusing - to see it?

The psalm that opens with the truth that "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth." (Psalm 50.2) includes the great invitation, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." (50.15) The beauty of the Lord was there each of those days. I was just looking in the wrong direction. I wanted to see his beauty in the trees, but he was revealing it by keeping me safe on my journey. I was looking for bright colors. He was keeping the deer far away from the roads.

Hidden beauty? Not really ... just eyes that would not see! The Message has the last verse of Psalm 23 saying, "Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life." I hope I remember those words the next time the beauty seems to be hidden, and gloom and doom are all I see.

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