It is a celebration of life as the autumn leaves fall like confetti around our Kentucky home. The trees stand tall and brave as they let go of their identity. No longer are they recognized as an Oak or a Maple, but just a ordinary tree. They bare themselves in vulnerability to the watching world. The brightly colored leaves held on as long as they could, but creation knows when it’s time to surrender. All eyes watched in amazement as they brace for the winds of change. Oh how beautifully they danced to their grave.
And then last winter, on one particular morning, it happened. I woke up early in the morning, coffee in hand, to look outside and see the ground covered in white. It was the first snow of the season. I was bound and determined the Edwards’ family would have FUN in the snow. Two hours later, I had my children bundled up and ready to go. The so-called “fun” lasted a total of fourteen minutes, due primarily to the fact they couldn’t move – literally. I guess that’s what happens when you have on ten layers of clothing. Momma kept them warm under all those layers, but they couldn’t go anywhere. They were frozen. (picture Oompa-Loompas on a sugar high)
When Everything Is Frozen
When it’s freezing, everything and everyone is forced inside into hibernation. Stuck. Sometimes when life moves in on you, it can feel like death, and oh, how you long to get out. Staying in can bring the ugly out. It’s like shaking a can of diet cherry soda with all that artificial sweetness; there is an explosion waiting to happen (this example can be taken to an entirely different level if your children develop the stomach bug).
There is a mysterious kind of beautiful that whispers softly over the glistening snow, yet no life to be seen. Looking out the windowpane was like looking deep into my heart; everything seemed lifeless. Everything seemed frozen. No color to be found, just blah. Yuck. Ick. Uhhgg. Dull.
Sometimes Life Feels Frozen
Frozen, stuck in the same boring and mundane routine.
Frozen, numb to the things of God.
Frozen, stiff to the advances of God’s grace in my life.
Frozen in doubt.
Frozen in our bad habits like nail biting, overeating, disorganization, forgetting your child’s homework . . . again (sorry Mrs. Hoak!)
Frozen, paralyzed by the fear of failing – again. I personally know the feeling of being so “bundled up” with fear that I cannot even try. In fact, often, I refuse to try.
Frozen, stuck in the same sinful patterns (many of which I feel like I’ve fighting since my teenage years).
Even your face is frozen in a vacant stare, and a smile cannot even be forced. You find yourself daydreaming, checking out, and numbing the pain of the reality that is before you.
We feel like the ice queen, who with her ice-cold heart, is standing still. This life of no progress leaves us with an urge to scream but we can’t because our lips our blue with frostbite. As though we’re in the midst of a paralyzing nightmare, we can hardly utter a word. We’re afraid to hear ourselves say it out loud again, because we are sick of hearing our same little, seemingly meaningless speech to God.
The sting of frostbite burns even more when you look over the fence and see your neighbor sitting by the fire.
Frozen Like Paul
The Apostle Paul used to embarrass me with all of his, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7). I mean come on Paul – get it together!!!! Everyone is watching you. If you, the author of much of the New Testament is still sinning, then my goodness, good luck for the rest of us! Paul, you can think it, just don’t say it out loud. Stop all this, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Paul was able to write to us in this way because he was preaching to us a Gospel that is not dependent upon our work. You know, “keeping it together” and sinning less and less. The message he was preaching is that our only hope lies in Jesus Christ’s perfect life and His death in our place. Until the day I die and see Jesus face-to-face there will continue to be a battle that rages in my heart. I will sin. I am not a slave to sin, but I will sin every day (even though I do not want to). I am writing a book about the beauty of getting over yourself, and yet in the midst of writing about getting over myself, I ironically see the hypocrisy of my self-love.
Embracing The Ice
No one wants to be frozen, but God often uses ice to bring out a unique transparency before God that could be cultivated in no other climate. In freezing temperatures, we long for the warmth of God’s love to melt away our cold heart. God likes to warm us up when nothing else will. Then, we see our great need of Him, and we once again realize that He is greatly to be praised. We are literally frozen and unable to move apart from the work of God in our lives (Paul would use the language of saying that we are “dead in our sin” in Ephesians 2). The recognition of our inability to move is the grace of God, and such poverty in spirit and utter dependence upon Him gives God great glory. Outside in the midst of a record-breaking-Narnia-looking winter I saw a tree branch wrapped in layers of ice crystals. In my curiosity (and wrestling with God) I snapped off part of the branch, and there in the midst of layers of ice was life! Green, flowing, moving LIFE. This tree was not dead, no it was pushing through the earths dark soil, deeper, firmer, and fuller.
Christian, you may feel frozen, but there is life moving through you. The blood that flowed from the veins of Christ is beating a rhythm in your chest, do you feel it?
Take hope and know that it is God who brings the snow and the ice. And yet He brings the snow not to harm us, but to show us something of our need for Him. After all, rarely do we truly appreciate the gift of warmth until we’ve spent a few hours in the ice.
The winds of change may leave us bare, but we can stand firm, rooted deep in WORD that is never changing.