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A new landscape

A new landscape

Snow changes everything.

My idea this morning is to take some photos of the farmlands west of my town, freshly overlaid with last night’s snow.  Now that I’m on the partially plowed roads, I realize it could be hard to find a place to park.  The shoulders are piled high.  But at the crest of a hill, I find the entrance of a long driveway and pull in just far enough to be out of harm’s way.

Getting out, I stand in the biting cold and take in the scene.  At the end of the lane, a brick house faces the morning sun with its roof of snow like a frosted gingerbread house.  Westward down the valley, the stubble of last year's harvest pokes through the snow.  An occasional barn and silo interrupt the sloping lines of overlapping hills.

I am struck once again by the transformative beauty of winter.  A snowfall does more than add to a landscape.  It is a complete makeover.  It alters the way I see everything – accentuating the roll of the hills, contrasting the dark water of a stream against its banks, punching up the red of the barns.  It is the same scenery I know, but at the same time, it is utterly different.

This is what it means to follow Jesus.  He didn’t just enter my life to be an accent.  That would be expecting the snow to fall only where I think it should – that pine tree (so pretty!) but not this driveway (so inconvenient!).

No, Jesus comes to utterly change my world.  Everything fundamentally remains itself, but Jesus wholly alters the way I see and interact with it.

Here’s a verse that gets to this idea:

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  2 Cor. 5:15

As a believer, I continue to live out my life, but the fundamental reason for living has changed.  I am to live for him.  His purposes drive me.  I see his handiwork, his intentions in the landscape of my day – coloring my decisions, interactions, even wants.

Everything is changed.  Even while it remains the same.

As I turn to get back in the car, the sun emerges from behind a dark bank of clouds.  It reminds me of one of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes:

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Just as the sun – and a new snowfall – affects the way we see our familiar surroundings, Jesus wants to completely change the way we see our lives.

He did not come to be the Augmentor.

He is the Redeemer.  The great Recreator, come to wholly transform us, even our very reason for living.

Lord, forgive us for the ways in which we dictate how much of our lives you can remake with your rule.  Give us fresh eyes to see the world around us with you at the heart of it.

Reader: Here’s your chance to tell me (or show me a photo) of a time winter completely changed a familiar landscape.

Email me about it at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And consider sharing this with friends via the social media buttons above.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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