When we woke this morning, six more inches of fresh snow was gently and peacefully falling onto the several feet of sparkling white already piled high on the ground. Almost too beautiful to be real, the rugged Cascade Mountains surrounding our town paint a stunning winter-white backdrop almost everywhere.
“On stage,” our pretty little town– absolutely stunning with dazzling Christmas lights that stay up all through the winter– is alive with the carefree laughter of those who head over the mountain passes from Seattle in order to escape the stresses of everyday life and embrace the calming peace that our little European-styled village offers.
It’s pretty idyllic– there’s always snow for Christmas. In the summer, the town is a breathtaking display of hanging baskets full of fragrant flowers. A river, aptly named the “Icicle,” converges with the “Wenatchee” and together they wind their way through town– like Tolkien’s Rivendell– sometimes with gushing whitewater, sometimes slowly, gracefully meandering. Perpetual festivals and outstanding live theater make every season a celebration (we’re currently gearing up for the late January Icefest,) and with four very distinct and very individual seasons, there’s always a reason to come on over and have a great time.
“Backstage,” however… it’s quite another story! In order to create the picture-perfect getaway for visitors to our pretty little town, those of us in the tourist industry work hard, fast, and tirelessly to make it happen. As always, we just had another “White Christmas” complete with horse-drawn sleighrides, carolers, fireworks, a Living Nativity, chestnuts roasting on an open fire…. but because of unusually heavy snow this year, we also had power outages, closed roads, and literally hundreds of trees falling under the weight of it!
Dan and I own a lodging business where we manage homes, cabins, or big lodges that are booked as vacation rental properties. This year, the contractor who plows the driveways of some of the homes we manage had to first clear scores of trees that had fallen, blocking entrance, before he could eventually plow. My husband Dan and our son-in-law Jason– who is the properties manager for our business– worked long, hard hours to prevent pipes and hot tubs from freezing at the 55 homes, cabins, condos, and lodges that we manage. And the extra staff we hired to help clean in the short window of time between guests checking out and new guests checking in, created a constant flow of people hustling in and out, working hard and fast.
In order to make what’s happening in the limelight appear beautiful and flawless, there’s much hustle, bustle, and sheer hard work–almost the appearance of chaos– in the background. But that shouldn’t be surprising, should it? Because really, that’s life, isn’t it? In truth, life is like a beautifully performed drama where God Himself is center stage. Everybody has a supporting role– and backstage, there’s an awful lot of hard work and apparent “chaos” going on in order to make the performance a beautiful one. Very simply, that’s the way life works. You just can’t have the beauty without the chaos.
Corrie Ten Boon once wrote of the back of the tapestry appearing as a tangle of mismatched threads that are so necessary in order to produce the beautiful artwork of the fabric on the “right” side. Frankly, I can’t think of a single beautiful thing in life that isn’t born without hard work, great effort, tears, frustrations, and very often, suffering or sacrifice. What might seem to be “chaos” is actually the hard work it takes to make something truly beautiful.
So many times, we pray for needs that are legitimate and often urgent– and when God provides His beautiful answer, lo and behold, it so often requires backstage effort or sacrifice on our part! Sure, the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah was pretty awesome– miraculous, in fact– and formed the foundation of God’s promised Covenant– but at this point of my life, I truly marvel that Sarah could raise a toddler, then a teenager, when her body was even more worn out than mine is right now.
There are “answers” that God is providing even now in the current circumstances we’re all walking through. But in order to truly embrace and appreciate them, we ought to recognize we will likely have to sacrifice something. Hurt a little. Work a lot. At this point in history, unfortunately we’re far too often bombarded with demands for quick, easy fixes– and consequently, impatience and indulgence have led to an unprecedented mindset of dependence upon someone else (like government?? or God Himself?) to provide easy handouts. Free money. Free bail-outs. Free education. A free ride… But that’s not the way God works, and it’s not the way life works. We should know that.
So…after the craziness of the Christmas season subsided, we gathered all of our employees together last week for a party. We ate, we laughed, we told each other stories, and we celebrated. After all those long hours, hard work, and intense effort, we had done it! Success!
These days, I’ve been praying for God’s Grace to help me keep up a good attitude– even enjoy it!– when necessary effort and sacrifice seems to cloud my vision of the promise that’s ahead. Ultimately, it will provide rich depth and so much greater appreciation when I finally see the end product. Because it will be beautiful.
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