It is a remarkable occurrence of nature that the most brilliant
colors of plants are found on the highest mountains, in places
that are the most exposed to the fiercest weather. The brightest
lichens and mosses, as well as the most beautiful wildflowers,
abound high upon the windswept, storm-ravaged peaks.
One of the finest arrays of living color I have ever seen was
just above the great Saint Bernard Hospice near the ten-thousand-
foot summit of Mont Cenis in the French Alps. The entire
face of one expansive rock was covered with a strikingly vivid
yellow lichen, which shone in the sunshine like a golden wall
protecting an enchanted castle. Amid the loneliness and barrenness
of that high altitude and exposed to the fiercest winds
of the sky, this lichen exhibited glorious color it has never displayed
in the shelter of the valley.
As I write these words, I have two specimens of the same
type of lichen before me. One is from this Saint Bernard area,
and the other is from the wall of a Scottish castle, which is
surrounded by sycamore trees. The difference in their form and
coloring is quite striking. The one grown amid the fierce storms
of the mountain peak has a lovely yellow color of a primrose,
a smooth texture, and a definite form and shape. But the one
cultivated amid the warm air and the soft showers of the lowland
valley has a dull, rusty color, a rough texture, and an indistinct
and broken shape.
Isn’t it the same with a Christian who is afflicted, stormtossed,
and without comfort? Until the storms and difficulties
allowed by God’s providence beat upon a believer again and
again, his character appears flawed and blurred. Yet the trials actually
clear away the clouds and shadows, perfect the form of his
character, and bestow brightness and blessing to his life.
Amidst my list of blessings infinite
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled;
For all I bless You, most for the severe.