January 2016 newsletter piece

fresh-dirty snow

As I sit down to write this month’s newsletter article – the first article for 2016 – we are in the throes of our first blizzard of the winter.

Even though it made driving home from my office a bit of a challenge this evening, the snow that has been falling all afternoon is a beautiful sight.

It’s clean.

It’s pure.

It’s unblemished … at least for now.

And because it’s the first real, substantial snowfall that we’ve had this winter, there’s something magical, something refreshing, something nostalgic about it. Seeing it falling so softly outside the window makes us pause in the midst of whatever we’re doing and just watch it for a while. It makes us yearn for a cup of something warm in our hands – coffee, tea, hot chocolate. It makes us want to snuggle into our baggiest sweaters and most stretched-out wool socks, curl up on a couch, and just be warm and content.

*insert contented sigh here*

As I watch the flakes fly and the world outside grow steadily whiter, I find snow to be an interesting metaphor for our faith and the way we live our lives.

Think about this: We are on the cusp of a new year: 2016! The year ahead of us lies bright and new and full of possibilities just like an open field after a fresh snowfall. The only question we have is how we will leave our mark on the blank canvas in front of us.

There are times when our faith can feel like that. It can feel fresh. It can feel clean and new. It can feel like all the potential in the world lies before us. All we need to do is follow God into the future: boldly, confidently, reassured in the goodness of God and the strength of our faith.

But all too soon, the pristine blanket out white outside the window will become less perfect. There will be footprints. There will be what we aptly called “snirt” at our house – that unpleasant mixture of snow and dirt. There might even be dog pee. Before long, we will be wishing for the end of the snow and longing for warmer days and cleaner roads, complaining about the struggle and the cold that the snow brings.

Basically, it doesn’t take long for the magic of that first snowfall to wear off.

And it can feel like this with our lives and our faith sometimes, too. The polish wears off. The sparkle dulls. And we are left with the reality – that we live in a broken world … that we and the people we work with and the people we love are less-than-perfect … that even people with the strongest faith have struggles, questions and doubts.

So what do we do when that happens? What do we do when things around us look ugly instead of inviting? When the magic wears off and all that’s left is the work to be done?

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. [God] doesn’t grow tired or weary. [God’] understanding is beyond human reach, giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted. Youths will become tired and weary, young men will certainly stumble; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.
~ Isaiah 40:28-31

Whatever lies ahead of us … whatever is coming to replace the magic with the mundane … whatever will make us weary and worn, God will be there when it comes. God will walk with us. God will guide us. God will even carry us when the need arises … and we know that it will.

As we venture into the new year ahead, may we go holding that magic of a fresh snowfall in our hearts and the determination to overcome whatever comes our way with God at our sides.

Pastor Lisa sign

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