This was the first major snowfall of the season. There had been a few that didn’t leave an accumulation, but this one was different.
I was attending a silent retreat and the blanket of snow seemed to also silence the land.
The sun appeared mid-afternoon, beckoning me to brave the cold and partake of the beautiful surroundings.
The only sound I could hear was the squeak of my boots on the snow. The pristine white surface sparkled with ice crystals looking like millions of pieces of glitter sprinkled before me.
I walked toward the evergreens dressed in their winter gowns.
The snow lay thick on the branches and I saw some weighed down by this heavy burden. Not only was this a photo op, it was also an analogy of life.
Too much of anything can weigh us down. A little guilt here, a touch of regret there and soon we are tired from our heavy load. We bow to the ground, unable to carry the burden. Without relief, we are in danger of breaking.
Jesus has promised to give us rest when we bring our burdens to him. First, we have to silence the noise in our minds. In the stillness will we be able to discern his voice and allow him to lighten our load.
When the sun shines on the tree branches the snow starts to fall away. In the same way, the Son of Man takes our worries, allowing us to stand straight and tall once again.
“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 GWT)
A few days into our mountain getaway I realized the view from our window was different every morning.
The first day dawned bright and clear. Sunshine accented the rugged outline of the Rocky Mountains, inviting us out to explore.
The following morning it was overcast and low cloud obscured our view of the majestic peaks. The drizzle and dreariness lasted throughout the day.
Day three I woke to see the brightness of the sun filtering through the blinds. When I opened them I was greeted by the beauty of fresh snow on the mountain tops. I knew that this beauty was a direct result of the previous day’s weather.
As I thanked God for the scene before me, I felt a nudge in my spirit telling me to apply this to my life.
Not every day can bring the sunshine. I have often felt despair in the dark, gloomy days of life. Hopes and plans seem to either be shattered or put on hold. A longing for the brightness of new promise is palpable.
What I don’t always remember is that God is working behind those clouds of doubt and confusion. Instead of resisting and fighting through with my own plans, I am forced to slow down and surrender to God. That is when he does incredible work in my life. It may not be anything I can see at the time, but when the veil is lifted there is a beauty and purpose in my life that wasn’t there previously. I thank him for the sunshine and the clouds.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV)
According to the calendar, it was now spring. Thursday night snow had fallen. Not the fine, icy crystals of winter snow, but the fat, wet flakes that fall in spring and accumulate quickly.
Therefore, it was no surprise when I woke up on Good Friday to see our yard covered in a blanket of white.
I thought the symbolism behind this was perfect. Good Friday is the day we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. He shed his blood and gave his life in order that our sins may be forgiven.
In the Bible the Lord says our sins are like scarlet and he will make them white as snow. The blood that Jesus shed so many years ago paid the ransom for my sins to be forgiven.
I stood in church singing the words “Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”
On Good Friday I thought of the blood of Jesus and then looked upon the earth that was now white with snow. The result of his ultimate sacrifice had a new visual to remind me of the greatest love ever shown. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve this grace.
I am humbled as I praise him once again and pray that my life will be lived in a way that is honouring to him.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)
So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:6-7 NLT)
The fresh snowfall had covered our yard with a pristine coat of white. I gazed at its beauty, untouched save for the prints of the hare that frequents our neighbourhood. The few marks left behind by wild creatures did nothing to detract from the fine, icy snowflakes that sparkled in the morning sun. This was nature in its finest fresh and unspoiled state.
The yard stayed this way for days. Then children came to visit. They romped and played in the snow. I watched them lay on their backs to make snow angels. Armfuls of snow were gathered for building structures in other parts of the yard. Their winter playground was thoroughly enjoyed and the scene left behind was anything but pristine.
At first I thought it was a shame the beauty had been disturbed. Then I was struck by how this related to my life.
Each day I start with a clean, fresh canvas, much like that of untouched snow. It is a gift from God and up to me what I do with it. If I want it to remain pristine I cannot step into it. Somehow that seems like a waste. Would I then just be watching life and not participating?
I need to step boldly into the day and use the resources before me. Life won’t always stay neat and tidy but that’s alright. Instead of worrying about the mess I could make I need to use the gifts God has placed before me. It is exciting to see what can be created.
This is how I can make the most out of each precious day I’ve been given. No matter how my day turns out I take great comfort in knowing that God’s mercies are brand new every morning and his love never ends.
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT
The snow was still falling when I went out to shovel. There had been quite an accumulation in the previous hours and the sidewalk and driveway needed to be cleared. This was normally my husband’s job, but he was unable to do it this time so it was up to me.
As I removed the first few shovelfuls, I was happy at how much easier it was than I had first thought. Self congratulations were short lived though, as it seemed the longer I worked, the heavier the snow seemed to become. There was the same amount on the shovel each time, so I found it interesting that the load became heavier the more times I carried it off to the side. As I struggled, I saw a man across the street clearing the sidewalk with a snow blower. Part of me wanted to ask for his assistance. The other part wouldn’t let me ask for help. It would be different if he noticed that I was struggling and offered to help. That didn’t happen, so I carried on, feeling sorry for myself as my back screamed out in protest of the heavy loads.
Later, as I reflected on this, I realized there was a relationship between shoveling snow and my life. When I just have a few burdens, they may be a nuisance, but they are not too heavy to carry. Unfortunately, like the snowfall, if not dealt with they multiply making it ever more difficult to bear the load. When I struggle under this weight alone, not only do I suffer physically, but my emotional state is not pleasant. What I sometimes forget is that I do not have to do it on my own. Help is available if I just ask for it. Jesus is just a prayer away and when called upon will always send someone or something to lighten my load.
A person standing along can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 New Living Translation