Weather is one crazy thing. Of late, as parts of the western USA were being beset by record heat, other parts of the country, like Colorado and Wyoming, experienced their first snowfalls. And that was before the official arrival of autumn, much less winter. A few days later, summer temperatures had returned. In many parts of the country, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.
No wonder meteorologists hedge their bets with predictions of “70% chance of rain,” or “a cold front with the possibility of 1-2 inches of snow.” Because that means 30% chance it won’t rain, or that despite decreasing temperatures, there’s a chance it won’t snow at all. Technically, they’re always right.
But seasons still come and go, as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We’ll soon find ourselves in the midst of winter. And with it, some homes will again be adorned with those marvelous little creations called snow globes.
They come in all sizes, featuring a vast array of scenes: horses and sleighs; quaint, show-covered towns; wooded countrysides; skyscrapers for urban dwellers; figures like snowmen, angels or Santa Claus. But the best thing about a snow globe is what happens right after it’s shaken, when tiny white particles inside are churned up into the watery “air,” then slowly fall like snow.
It's curious that while most snow globes catch our eyes even when stationary, they’re most beautiful after being shaken. Instantly, tunes like “Let It Snow” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” start dancing in our minds. Shake up the globes, and then all the real beauty happens.
Everyday life can be like that. We plod through our lives, muddling through the mundane, then suddenly something happens to shake things up. At first we find the disruption annoying, or worse. We desperately desire a return to the familiar and predictable. But often, if only in retrospect, beauty emerges from the shaking.
Recently I heard a missionary speaking about this, explaining how God led her to enlist for serving in a very unlikely – for her – mission field. She had been very content where she was, believing the Lord was using her there. However, through a chain of events – and considerable shaking – God made it clear He was calling her elsewhere.
Each of my career moves came about as the Lord shook me from comfort and even complacency, making it abundantly clear He didn’t want me to remain where I was. Good things, I had to learn, aren’t necessarily the best things God has for us.
I think of the Old Testament patriarch, Abram (later known as Abraham), who was instructed to leave his pleasant, familiar life in Haran to go to the land of Canaan:
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3).
On the face of it, this sounds like a good deal. To be made into a great nation; have one’s name made great; become a blessing to all people? What’s not to like? But change is usually hard, especially when it’s not on our terms. Abram had it made in Haran. Who could have blamed him for wondering, “But Lord, can’t we do that right here? I’m one of Haran’s movers and shakers. And I’ve heard those Canaanites are pretty rough people.”
I don’t know if Abram raised any of those objections. Most likely, they at least crossed his mind. But he and God had a history – the Lord had blessed him abundantly, had proved Himself 100 percent faithful, and there was no reason to doubt He had a good plan. “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated...” (Genesis 12:4-5).
Later, God made a covenant with Abram. He promised that even their advanced years, Abram and Sarai (to be renamed Sarah) would have a son, and their descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Then it says, “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). His faith was so exceptional, it’s recounted in the New Testament – Hebrews 11:8-12.
Snow globes weren’t invented until the late 1800s, so Abraham wouldn’t have understood the snow globe metaphor. But his life was definitely shaken up. Nevertheless, he willingly agreed to relinquish his good life to experience the much better life God had for him.
Is God shaking things up in your life? In many ways, 2020 has seemed like an ongoing earthquake, one unwanted surprise after another. But when the Lord decides it’s time to shake things up in our lives, we have this assurance: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. For our ‘God is a consuming fire’” (Hebrews 12:28-29; Deuteronomy 4:24). He may shake things up for us, but He’s never shaken.