Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Small Blessing In A Hard Winter

In many places it has been a long, cold and very hard winter, excluding perhaps for those who are avid skiers or who may possess genes resembling that of a polar bear.  Even so, most of those who enjoy the beauty surrounding of the fluffy white stuff tend to be less than thrilled with the assorted hassles that typically accompany severe winter conditions. So when the cold months "give until it hurts" even the most hardy among us may dream of some distant beach or a Fourth of July picnic with friends adorned in shorts, tee-shirts and flip-flops!

The snowstorm that passed through a day or so has left my yard looking like the proverbial "winter wonderland". It not only covers the ground but still clings to almost every branch in site. The scene is such that even those who might voice their utter contempt for winter might secretly admire God’s creative handy-work in what they see about them. As I sit here, more snow fell last night, and apparently more is on the way a few days from now.

I have always been winter person so to speak but, with passing time, that is dwindling somewhat. I am a hockey fanatic and have what is left of my  knees to prove it. And long ago I spent every spare dollar and moment skiing at some of the nation’s great resorts. As a result. I learned to drive fairly well in snow and even enjoy the challenge that others may despise. I actually enjoy traveling around while the surroundings are "as white as snow". It looks just so clean and pristine!

But then something creeps gradually into this amazing backdrop - something that subtly begins to detract from it all. Most have probably never seen it or give it a second thought if they do. But for some reason it always grabs my attention and always brings the same exact reaction.

It revolves around that that small percentage of dingy snow piled along side almost every curb on every road. It comes as a result of vehicles splashing dirty, melting water and salt onto snow banks along the way. The contrast is rather stark with everything else in sight being so white and bright. Again, few may pay any notice to this normal post-storm occurrence, but it always reminds me a verse in the Old Testament that reads as follows:

"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)

The white snow, at least to me, represents forgiveness and the new clean slate given by God to all who are in His faith family. The darker, dirty snow is symbolic, again to me, of sin and that fact that the darkness of sin is always present and has to be dealt with until we reach heaven’s shore.

This dingy snow at the roadside always spoils the otherwise perfect setting. There it sits right on top of the clean and white snow beneath it. It is not very pretty at all. But before long, if it does not all melt away first, another storm or even a good dusting arises and covers that discolored material. All is once more clean and pristine for a while. And that is then a reminder of a rather familiar New Testament verse this time. The writer records, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Christians have cleansed hearts before God. That is their position forever through Christ. They are seen as clean and perfect by their Creator. But on occasion, there enters a layer of sin that tarnishes and impacts that relationship. That's the bad news. But the good news is that this can be covered and fully reversed, as are the roads from a fresh storm of white flakes. Believers can, and should, bring whatever it is that comes between them before the Lord and ask for His fresh "coating" of grace. No, their peace with God is never in jeopardy. That cleansing of the heart is forever theirs in Christ. But yes, the peace of Him can be temporarily interrupted and thus will require spiritual repairs - "if we confess our sins".

Perhaps these thoughts will remind you some day of the reality of God’s amazing covering of your sins - forever. And just maybe the scene described above will remind you of the two verses as they do me every time that I witness this contrasting winter scene. It is a very simple illustration that always helps me realize what my redemption has done. And it is also something that reminds me of what I must do to experience a fresh "coating" of God’s special post-salvation grace when my positionally cleansed heart may need some additional cleaning in order to restore the full joy and peace of  a fully right relationship with God.

Bill Breckenridge

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