So, this gorgeous flaming orange
is on the side of a dilapidated sheep trailer,
just abandoned on the hillside.
On first glance, it is a rusty eyesore,
and I’m sure that it makes many people who pass by angry:
Why has it been dumped here?
Why hasn’t the farmer disposed of it properly?
Why should we have this bright orange blot in the landscape?
Heedless of all that, I found it fascinating;
the elements had torn it to shreds in places,
the structure collapsed, the metal bent into intriguing shapes,
the wooden floor reduced to rotting planks…..
only the rubber tyres appeared unscathed
but as the whole thing had tipped over, they were facing the sky!
A study in decay.
All but the rubber will eventually return to the earth,
the wood rotted down, the metal degraded
until it flakes away and remembers that it came from rock.
But it will take years and years and years.
In the meantime, the rust creeps over it,
eating away at its once pristine surface,
creating textures and colours that were not there before,
creating this object of strange beauty.
Far be it from me to suggest that we are rusting sheep trailers…..
but this spoke to me of the beauty that comes upon us
when what we thought we were, who we thought we were,
is laid quietly aside, dying to self,
so that we can be clothed with the flaming colours of God.
Our physical beauty is weathered by the years,
our idealism tempered, our pride steadily worn away,
our selfishness softened, our will moulded,
until Who God is in us, in our very fabric,
is more apparent than our original structure.
We were never meant to remain in our shiny, independent,
prideful, rebellious natural state,
just as this trailer was never meant to remain as pristine
as the day it left the factory.
The very first load of sheep would have begun its journey
into the grubbiness of life’s wear and tear;
years of animals and rain and mud and stony tracks
continued the process until it could work no more
according to its original function.
But was it ever as flamingly glorious as this in its youth?
What is bland grey metal compared with multi-shaded orange?
If we are ever tempted to regret the passing years,
mourning the vigour of youth, the dreams unfulfilled,
we should pull ourselves up short
and rejoice in the transforming work of Christ in our inner selves.
The Promise is that we are being taken from glory to Glory,
even as our earthly selves are slowly, minutely decaying.
We have Life Eternal zinging in our hearts,
we have the Robes of Righteousness adorning us,
we bear the Holy Spirit’s Flame.
Yes, we may have been weathered by life,
but we have also been tempered by the Hand of God.
We cannot see the glorious shading for ourselves, perhaps,
but others can,
and the Eyes of the Lord look with fascinated Love
upon the colours of Salvation at work within us.
And so, we are thankful for the years, thankful for Grace,
thankful for the Cross that is our constant companion;
the place of Glorious transformation. 

Copyright of all images and text belongs to Claire Gardner

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