I‘m driving east today from Seattle, into the mountains for some R&R (Reading & wRiting). I’ve been east often during this past ski season, often enough to watch the snow pile up, to watch upper story windows become encased in snow. Up in these coastal mountains, most of that rain that famously falls in Seattle comes down as snow, creating tons of beauty. Still, enough is enough, and one begins to wonder, with the white stuff still falling in late March, when this frozen beauty will be released to water the earth.
“It’s been coming down without sinking in – for months now” I think to myself as I ponder the parallels between this all this snow and our souls which are o-so-slow to receive some of that which we need to sustain our life of joy, and hope, and healing, and progressive transformation. We can show up day after day to hear God’s voice, but like so much snow, it can, and does, fail to penetrate our cold hearts. We begin to wonder if it’s worth it, if all this ‘showing up’ isn’t just creating a big white out that’s killing our capacity to enjoy life. It’s discouraging to people. It’s discouraging to pastors too (who are also usually people, but you get my point).
“Nothing’s changing” we say to ourselves. Circumstances? Emotional blockage? Cynicism? Fear? Shame? Yep – still there. “Screw this” is sometimes the next response as people head to the desert, metaphorically, where they’ll be released, at least, from the frustrations of expecting change, and finding sameness. The desert promises nothing, if not sameness. Yes, that’s where we’ll go – a little vacation from the God who showers us with snow. We call this backsliding for some reason.
I’m thinking about all this when I round a bend in the road and find, cutting right through the mounds of snow, a gigantic waterfall, relentlessly melting the frozen landscape to reveal a waiting earth beneath. I smile. “Spring”. Then there’s another, and another, and another one after that – thick, powerful, eager, relentlessly melting to water the earth that’s been waiting since sometime last Thanksgiving for the life giving stuff. My smile becomes pure joy, and soon I find myself, against all notions of propriety, laughing, and shouting “marvelous” right there in the car on the way to some R&R.
Isaiah talks about all this. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater ; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It will not return to Me empty”. I love that God’s word comes to us as rain, received fully by parched hearts that desperately need what God is offering us right in that exact moments. I love, even more, that the Word comes as snow during those seasons when our hearts are to cold to receive. We’re not ready, or willing, or able sometimes, to receive what God has for us. Instead of vaporizing us in anger, I love the promise of Isaiah, that we can rest in the truth that the word comes as rain and snow. Sometimes we receive it immediately, and sometimes not. The thaw will come though, and when it does, there’ll be a few drops at first, but eventually it will be more – it will be a waterfall, refreshing and invigorating our parched hearts.
For Pastors, teachers, spouses, counselors, and all you caring types:
Keep pouring it on. Keep preaching, serving, counseling, caring, loving – when people respond, and when they don’t. You’re the cloud, and you don’t know whether your offering will be snow or rain in any given place. You do know this much though: The water won’t be wasted! When the time is right, thawed souls will be able to receive your contribution, one month or ten years later, or even fifty. Relax. Your just the cloud, pouring out the water.
For all of us:
I know about the frozen soul. I know the value of showing up for coffee with God, even when the entire enterprise feels like a waste of time because my soul’s so cold. I know, because the thaw always comes eventually, and when it does there are smiles, joy, laughter. Nothing’s wasted after all!
God of all seasons
When our hearts are eager, you saturate us with your life giving truth, who is the Christ. Thank you.
When our hearts are frozen, you appear as snow, which accumulates for later. Thank you.
When our hearts are warm, the thaw begins, and the beauty, power, and abundance of it all can only make us sing with joy. Thank you for this too.
May we keep showing up in all seasons confident that, whether we’re able to receive it in the moment or not, you too are showing up!
PS… check back tomorrow for more pictures of the thaw.