by Emily Conrad
Taking down Christmas decorations requires more discipline than putting them up. In late November and early December, I’m excited to start a season of celebration. By early January, I’m reluctant to go back to normal life, but the clutter of the extra décor wears on me.
So, I haul up the boxes for my Christmas ornaments and tuck them away. I unwind the garland and carry off the tree. Then I sweep. The dustpan collects the usual suspects of dust and dog hair, sprinkled with glitter.
That’s how my January has felt. The usual suspects—short days, cold weather, prior commitments, minor hiccups, and challenging work—collect in my days.
There’s a lot of dust around here, and persevering at the work hasn’t been easy.
But just when I’m tempted to complain, I notice there’s glitter, too.
New opportunities, good news, unexpected blessings, and reasons I started these challenging projects in the first place.
If I succeed at this work, new doors could open. And, when I reread those words I’ve struggled to wrangle onto the page, I find that the struggle is mine, not the story’s. From what I can tell (from this admittedly close vantage point), the discipline will result in a usable story–if I keep at it.
Also, there’s glitter that’s more eternal than visible. I believe I’ve been called to this work for a purpose only God fully knows. I believe he’s using this dusty offering to advance his eternal kingdom in ways that only he could do.
I’ve read the creation story. I know God can do wonders with dust.
The glitter of this hope keeps me going.
As Christ followers, we always have the glitter of hope, no matter how bad our circumstances get—though admittedly, the “dust and glitter” metaphor doesn’t seem to cover it all.
Disappointments get much worse than dust. Hope can be much harder to spot than glitter.
And yet, for Christians, it is always present.
Our struggles serve a greater purpose than what we may or may not accomplish on this earth. When everything around us seems dusty with failure or difficulty, let’s remember that our goal isn’t to collect glitter here, but rather in eternity.
Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11, NET)
For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. (Hebrews 12:2-3, NET)
What is the joy set out for us? Eternal life with Jesus. Peace with God. Righteousness.
We may be formed of dust. Dust, the inevitable trials, may collect in our lives, but God’s promises glitter even here and now.
Hope, peace, and love. A God who is with us even through the worst trials, and with whom our eternities remain secure, regardless of earthly outcomes.
Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, NET).
Even when circumstances try to sweep it away, the glitter of God’s blessings is collecting. We can rely on Him as we persevere, knowing joy is set before us in Him.
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Title image photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash, graphic created on Canva.com
I'm not a fan of January and can relate to the drag of hauling decorations off to their dark places until we repeat the cycle again next year. Then GLITTER! Great analogy, to find the reality of a glittering eternity in the midst of a dusty here and now. Thanks for this needed encouragement, Emily
"God can do wonders with dust" – Yes!! He can take something we want to throw in the trash and turn it into treasure!
I've never thought about how the decorations wait in dark places, but they really do, don't they? Seems like there's a whole different blog post there! Maybe you should write that one 😉 Thanks so much for reading, Mary!
Yes, exactly, Katie! Beauty for ashes!