This time of year in Indiana isn’t always beautiful. When the snow drifts just right, and the winter sunlight glints off the snow-covered branches, and when you take time to notice that the shadows from the corn stubble left in the field are a lovely bluish-purple, then yes, it can be called pretty. But much of the time, our winter landscape consists of drab browns — grass and weeds and plants that are dead and dry and crumbly, washed-out gray skies, and the stark pointy shapes of tree branches, bare of leaves, silhouetted against the sky. But the other morning, the scenery was breathtaking.

A dense white fog had settled onto the ground in the night, and though it had cleared in most areas, it left behind a beautiful white frost. Everything was covered. The crystals outlined each and every blade of grass, the fence posts and wires, the individual pine needles, the bushes and the plants and every single delicate branch of the trees. It was breathtaking. Suddenly, the blah landscape was transformed into a thing of remarkable beauty. Everything was a shade of white, with the lightest, purest white coming from the sun, trying to burn through the fog. Bluish-whites and grayish-whites and dull whites and sparkly whites; it was like looking at a magical, make-believe world. It was the same view that had been there the night before, the same as it had been all winter — except for one thing. The frost. That one little touch — that specific combination of temperatures and humidity and cloud cover and air pressure — made all the difference in the world. Suddenly, we were able to see everything in a new way.

We’re all products of our environment, if we let ourselves be. How quickly we pick up the prevailing mood or spirit — when good things happen, our outlook is positive and hopeful; when we’re confronted with trouble or anger or hatred, we respond in kind. In other words, we are changed, just as the landscape was — but are we changed in a good way? If we soak ourselves in the glory of God, if we let Him saturate our days, our minds, and our spirits, then His beauty will cling to us. His magnificence will outline our very beings, and we’ll walk around transformed, and people will see our individual attributes and formerly hidden beauty. But if we don’t surround ourselves with His presence, if we don’t immerse our lives in His grace and mercy and love, nothing will change. We’ll still remain drab, dull, and (frankly) not all that interesting. When Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Commandments, the glory of God settled like a cloud. When he came back, he wasn’t the same because the Spirit of God changed him. Next time you draw close to God, you have a choice to make: will you stay the same, or will you be transformed by His touch?

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