Thursday, January 7, 2016

Snow - Friend or Foe?

Snow is sometimes the beauty, but at other times it can be the beast.
It seems we have a love-hate relationship with snow. Many of us were disappointed when we failed to experience the much-heralded “white Christmas” a couple of weeks ago. Almost without fail, we rush to our windows and marvel as the first snowflakes of the season cascade to the ground in all of their feathery whiteness. But then, when we have to drive through an accumulation of snow, or have to drag out the snow shovels to clear our sidewalks and driveways, or after it has hung around for weeks and weeks, turning gray and black on the roadways, our fascination with snow quickly fades.

When highways are clear and dry, it’s a delight to drive along, gazing at the sun glistening in the frozen crystals. But during a snowstorm, when traction is treacherous and our tires want to guide our vehicles in directions we wish not to take, anger and expletives (expressed or not) compete with our sense of wonderment. Snow – love it and hate it.

Recently I was reminded that snow has more uses than just for snowballs, snowmen and snow angels. It also serves as an excellent metaphor for what God desires to do in each of our hearts.

In the Bible, sin is associated with darkness, blackness. It is described as the dirtiest of dirt, the foulest of impurities. This is why, just as blood serves as a purifying agent within the human body, we’re told in the Bible, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This analogy is extended to snow in its purest, freshest form: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

Envision a front yard, with large patches devoid of grass. During a rain, the exposed dirt turns to mud, hardly a gardener’s vision of beauty. Yet that same yard, after a new snow, sparkles and shines in the sunlight, with none of the grassless soil underneath anywhere in sight.

In Psalm 51, one of King David’s most beloved psalms of repentance and confession, he offers a similar comparison: “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…. Hide you face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity” (Psalm 51:7).

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about God in His holiness, righteousness and purity, it seems beyond the realm of possibility to imagine standing before Him one day with all of my flaws, warts, failed good intentions – and sins. And yet we’re promised, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Sounds like mission impossible, doesn’t it?

We can’t purify ourselves. There’s no question about that. But through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, His blood shed for us, He provides the necessary and perfect cleansing, making us white as snow – even whiter than snow.

So the next time you see snowflakes blanketing the ground, turning your ordinary-looking yard or street into a proverbial winter wonderland, remember how God is desiring to do that for you – from the inside out. 

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