"Blessed are the poor, the gentle, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for uprightness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness"
~ Matthew 5:3-10
I love the forest. As a youth growing up near the Morgan - Monroe State Forest in southern Indiana, I was blessed to have hundreds of acres of trees along hillsides and valleys to explore and enjoy. Taking hold of a giant vine and testing it's hold in the canopies was always interesting, especially if it happened to stretch out over a valley. Sometimes the vines weren't always that secure, and the person holding firm would travel with the vine as it fell to the ground.
As young adults, these challenges were always filled with laughter. I don't ever remember anyone getting seriously injured, unless it was from laughter. It was just something that we did. I became pretty knowledgeable about several trees, and looked forward to the colors in the fall, as well as, the spring, when the forest would come to life again after a long winter.
There are many things in the forest to discover. A few years ago while on a trip with family and friends, I discovered an amazing log, that as the bark was pulled off, underneath revealed the images of past residents.
Trails had been burrowed into the tree, as it lay, decaying on the floor of the forest. For me, it created a portrait of what this tree had experienced.
The words within Matthew offer us a self-portrait of Jesus. Jesus is the Blessed One. And the face of the Blessed One shows poverty, gentleness, grief, hunger, and thirst for uprightness, mercy, purity of heart, a desire to make peace, and the signs of persecution.
The whole message of the Gospel is this: Become like Jesus. We have his self-portrait.
When we keep that in front of our eyes, we will soon learn what it means to follow Jesus and become like him.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, help me to remember that I was created in Your image, and that what others see in me is part of what makes up Your portrait that others learn to recognize. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.