Saturday, January 22, 2005

Whiter Than Snow

I like snow. That's not always a popular opinion around these parts. In town, people complain bitterly about shoveling and not being able to go anywhere without inconvenience. It gets in the way. It makes you so cold that it's hard to warm up again. But I still like it. If for no other reason, I like snow because of the way it makes things look.

In the church we sing about being washed whiter than snow. And that's pretty white. As I look out my window right now, we've had about 8 inches of snow fall in the past 48 hours. Everything is white. The only exceptions stick out like, well, dark things on a white field. And it's a stark contrast.

People are killed all winter long because of snow. Sometimes it's a heart attack while shoveling it. Other times someone is trapped and freezes to death. Then there are the traffic accidents caused by snow. Of course the snow isn't really the cause, it's someone driving too fast or in the wrong lane, but without the snow many of these accidents wouldn't have happened.

Yet at the same time, snow provides a setting for skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, hiking and a host of other activities which give people much joy. I remember the thrill as a kid getting to ride a snowmobile the first time. And more thrills when I got to drive! And who can forget waiting for school to be cancelled because of snow?

How does something cause joy and pain at the same time? Could it be in the eye of the beholder (or possibly the shoveler?) Is it simply a matter of seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty? Perhaps. But even in the worst of situations, God can mold us. Isn't that what Romans 8:28 is all about anyway? But no matter how terrible the situation, the good can still happen. Scripture often speaks of the refiner's fire - putting silver through fire to take away its impurities. The bad (getting burned is surely not fun) being used for the good. Good living with bad. Joy partnered with pain. What a symbol for our life on earth!

Yet some only see the bad. The snow becomes an obstacle instead of an opportunity. Tragedy becomes an excuse to run away from God instead of running to Him. I've seen many people who seem to relish the hate. They live for the chance to be surly. They are not comfortable unless there is reason to complain. I feel for those people.

For now, the snow continues to fall. And now it's blowing into drifts. The whiteness is becoming even whiter with the blowing snow in the air. And I wonder if that's a living example of being washed "whiter than snow" or just wishful thinking. Either way, there's a snowman waiting to be built.

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