Growing up in Boise, Idaho, the foothills were a familiar fixture of my every day life. In the same way you wake up in the morning and stare at the wall, they were just “there.” I appreciated them during winter for ski season. I liked knowing the “real mountains” were just beyond them. But that was all.
Every Spring, the foothills turn green for about one month. The arrival of June signals it’s time for the arid high-desert climate to take over and dry it all out again. As a child I’m not sure I ever paid attention long enough to notice. My mind holds only memories of…brown.
I remember thinking the hills weren’t just brown…but rather ugly. During family outings to the mountains, on more than one occasion, my Mother asked me to “please stop talking and just enjoy ‘the scenery’ out the window.”
All I saw were rocks, dirt, and sagebrush or pine trees!
Years later, I happily moved to the Midwest and, later, to the Southeastern corner of the country. I say “happily” because of the lush green – it was like a rich lotion on the cracked dry skin of my soul. Something about the year-round green of the Southeast, especially, made me feel “clothed.” It wasn’t until I traveled back to Boise with my husband for the first time I realized just how comfortable I’d become living in color.
As we flew into Boise for this December visit, the airplane circled the city on its approach. Of course I’d talked up the city and all its wonderful attributes, but as I looked out the window I’d never felt so exposed! Minus a little snow on the mountains, everything was brown and barren. I wanted to hide under my seat and go back to Georgia! This was certainly no way to introduce a new-comer to my hometown!
In an odd twist of God’s perfect provision in our life, today you’ll find us living squarely in the middle of those “ugly hills” from whence I once wanted to run. Only today, I see them through a much different lens.
When did all the birds arrive? There are so many different species I never saw when I lived out in the middle of the Boise valley.
Oh, and the cougars, bears, deer, badgers, whistle pigs, turkey vulchers, coyotes, jack rabbits, and foxes? Where did they come from? Certainly they couldn’t have been here before…could they?
But there’s more! Streams hidden in lush green shrubbery, wetlands that change in color almost daily, and more wildflowers than I could ever gather for my kitchen table are all tucked away in these ugly brown hills.
Like the foothills, God is sometimes so much a part of the daily fabric of my life that He blends into the landscape a little too much. Like the foothills, it’s nice to know He’s there when it’s convenient or I need Him.
When I slow down, I certainly can appreciate “moments.” But we aren’t called to live in mere moments with our Creator on our terms – He wants us to seek him constantly.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.” 1 Chronicles 16:10-13
A distant perspective yields a view that should draw us in to learn more. When I’m up close and personal, I am able to see with clarity His beauty, His majesty, His power, His love, and His plan for my life.
Sometimes all it takes is a little change in perspective to see the true beauty of ugly.
Father, who am I? I don’t want to live in the moments, visiting you when it is convenient like some ski trip. I want to seek your face and see the beauty of every moment you have gifted to me. Help me to make seeking you a conscious decision of each day. I want to know you. I want to seek your face. Please don’t let me be distracted today. Amen.
Taking it deeper:
What is your perspective of God today? Is he in the background, bringing color to the walls? Or is he coloring your life? What changes can you make to live in color?