White as Snow

White as Snow March 7, 2008

For those of us who rarely see snow, the sight of the huge flakes gently falling to the ground and covering everything with pristine white fills us with awe. Things formerly nondescript or even ugly to the sight become beautiful, transformed by the layer of fluff. Chain-link fences turn into fine lace, tree limbs bend as though offering their load of snow as a gracious gift, free to the taker. When the snow falls heaviest, sounds are muffled, a deep quiet permeates space and time.

Yes, all is exquisitely beautiful, hushed, transformed, shining clean. Children rush out to embrace it; adults leave being “sensible” behind and go out and walk and rejoice in it.

For this moment, the snowfall shows the exquisiteness of the grace of God. When God views us through the eyes of forgiving and redeeming grace, God also sees us as pristine, clean, beautiful, transformed. All darkness has been wiped away, all those times when we’ve chosen the dark, distorted, unholy, non-God ways have disappeared in the moment of grace.

Of course, what happens after the initial beautiful transformation can be challenging: traffic snarls, planes delayed, animals suffering, events cancelled. Here in Texas, the snow will melt quickly, and in days or even hours, the traces of whiteness will disappear. But in much colder climates, the snow stays. And stays. And stays. And another transformation takes place—one not nearly so lovely.

I used to work in Chicago—actually commuted there from Wichita Falls, TX. After flying into O’Hare, a flight often delayed by snowstorms in the winter, I would either take the train and bus (if I were feeling frugal—cost $1.25) or taxi (if I were feeling indulgent—cost $25) to my place of employment in an older and heavily populated section of Chicago.

Occasionally, I’d get there just in time to see the pristine white cover everything. However, it was more likely that I’d be there several days after a snowstorm. Things didn’t melt there as they do here. Especially deep into winter, there would be huge piles of snow heaped on edges of the sidewalks, left by the snow plows. It would take only a short time after a snow for those piles of snow to turn dark and ugly, splashed by the spray from cars and buses, melting slightly and then freezing again, eventually turning into rocks of dirty and slippery ice, treacherous to walk on and unpleasing to the sight. Spring weather becomes especially welcome as warmer rains and temperatures melted those disturbing reminders of what had been beautiful snow.

And that also is the nature of life with God. God’s grace does transform us into people of light and goodness. We rejoice in that transformation, but afterward the hard work continues to live as transformed people. We will get splashed by dirty water mixed with gritty sand. Pockets of seemingly impenetrable ice form in our hearts as we cling to habits that harm our souls. Yet spring rains—and for us in the south, warm winter sunshine—will come and melt that ice away.

The natural world has so much to teach us about the nature of God. Unending grace, sustaining us through unending trials, offering moments of exquisite sweetness and hope for the future. Thank You, God.

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