Feet-long ice spears fall freely and sporadically from tree limbs and utility lines as warming temperatures and gravity gradually strip them of the residue of this 3-day-long Texas winter. The woods are a giant arbor dog shaking off its cold bath in slow motion.
In brief moments of sunshine, the greenbelt’s shimmering frozen jewelry had become my aesthetic apostle, a messenger declaring mysteries of beauty, so I am sad to see it disappearing. The elders in Ephesus were grateful for the itinerant messenger God sent them, for the beauty of the mysteries he revealed to them, and likewise sad to see gravity drawing him into captivity at Jerusalem. “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship” (Acts 20:36-38).
But as the ice retreats, the familiar wildness of the creek’s wooded banks returns. The trunks and limbs, nests and leaves, vines and webs, which had given shape to the transitory ice, remain. I am comforted by their constancy, just as Paul comforts the Ephesians, assuring them of the permanence of the grace his presence only momentarily declared. “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
In brief moments in the presence of others, and in itinerant lifetimes, God sends us to coat the bramble with a shimmering reflection of his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But also persistently, God provides the Spirit and grace which make those reflections of his truth and lordship genuine—both for us, and for those to whom we are sent.
May God use the moments his Spirit shines through us this week to reveal the permanence of his grace and presence in this world.