the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and perfecter of faith..."
Hebrews 12: 1,2
We were traveling a highway through Western Ohio, enjoying a long stretch of four lanes where we did not have to pay close attention to the drive... brain put into fourth gear... miles to go before we had to start looking for our exit sign.
Exhaustion prevailed but we were starting the last stretch of travel, hoping to arrive home before dark if all went well and I kept the speed at five miles over the limit on the highways. ;)
Home was calling my name and my body complained about the abuse of a 2,000 mile round trip (and frustrated at my fear of flying).
There had been little real color left on trees as we drove home, come to think of it... most of the them were already in their winter sculpture mode... elegant in their own right against the sky after having shed their spring through autumn covering.
But we came upon a few miles of lush forest and both of us commented on the unexpected beauty which met our sight, for this forest remained full of its' leaves... all in shades of brown... long past the seasons of greens and golds and reds and yellows... nothing left but Beauty in Brown.
I wondered how many would drive through this forest, unimpressed as the color was no longer present. It must have been breathtaking just a week or two earlier. But even now, we could see Beauty. I'm not sure why but the scene reminded me of a phrase a former pastor used to use... how God loves...
...the last, the least, the little, the lost.
Compared to their former glory, the trees were far past their prime but when looked upon by one who could appreciate them as they were... beautiful past prime... they were just as glorious as before... different but breathtaking in their humble shades of brown... hanging on now as "the last".
Our appreciation gave value to the scene which most likely would change within days as strong winds would cause the heartiest of leaves to lose their grip on the branch and fall to the ground. Even then they will have value as they lay below the coming snow and give nutrients back to the soil.
As we continued our drive, I thought of the trees and knew to most their value was already lost as they were lacking the life and color they once enjoyed. I thought of how people are like that, how the world chooses what value will be placed on a life. How he who can run fast and handle a football with skill is worth millions of dollars but the one who is not strong or smart or talented is swept aside as not of value... he and she who are the last... the least... the little... and the lost.
Value given was brought to me again the day after Halloween when I stopped by my grocery store to find the large pumpkins which had been $5.00 the day before now being sold for .99 cents each. I brought two home with me, both in all their glory on my front porch to celebrate Harvest and Blessings. Later that week, the remaining pumpkins were now free to anyone who wanted them at another store.
Who determines our value? Have we been brought up believing we are of no worth because we are not beautiful enough or smart enough or talented enough... or even unwanted in the first place? Who do we see when we look in the mirror?
Who decides who is last? who is least? who is little? who is lost? Who decides the value of a person... the media... TV... movies... magazines... our third grade teacher... the parent who is never satisfied with our life... the religious author who says we are going to hell because we do not dress like they dress or we sing the wrong music... who then?
If we find our value in any but He Who Created Me, we will forever be chasing a perfectionist dream, finding ourselves on the gerbil wheel of life running after the approval of others. We must "keep our eyes fixed on Jesus" and not others who would tell us we are not good enough or beautiful enough or rich enough or smart enough or holy enough.
For once we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior... God views us through the lens of the forgiven and not the fallen. We are His Treasure... we are "loved with an everlasting love"... and if beauty truly is in the eyes of the Beholder... we are Beautiful... and very, very Valuable.