Shoveling Snow

My younger brother lives in Wisconsin. He recently sent me pictures of his snow shoveling efforts – a clean sidewalk after almost 3 feet of snow! His photos showed banks of snow lining clear paths which would only stay clear for a short time since forecasters were predicting another 6 inches or more in the next 24 hours. Here in the sunny South, that sounds like fiction to us, but it is part of everyday life in winter for him and his neighbors.

I love snow. I would love hanging out with my brother right now for about a week to just enjoy walking and playing in the snow with him. The light amounts we get here in Alabama never quite satisfy me. My snowmen always have leaves and twigs mixed in. That happens when you’re working with a couple of inches rather than a couple of feet. I’m sure I would burn out on the fun of snow if I lived for a winter in Wisconsin. Think of the hours of shoveling and the cold, hard work every day. That does not sound fun. So I’ll content myself with living in Alabama and longing for the random snow day where everything closes down when we get 2 inches.

As you can see, I’ve been thinking about snow a lot lately, and of course, I saw a couple spiritual applications from my brother’s snow event.

First, the purity and brilliant whiteness of his new-fallen snow pictures really is astounding. Every picture looks clean and crisp and fresh, whether it’s snow covering the dead, unraked winter leaves, the dirty streets, or his trash can! Scripture tells us that the forgiveness we have in Christ is like that, it can make the filthiest clean. Isaiah 1:18 states, ““Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” We see our past sin, our mistakes, our baggage. With the nudging of the enemy of our souls, we judge ourselves to be unforgivable. We internally, if not aloud, tell ourselves that we are too bad and no one could ever forgive us. But that is simply not true. Romans 5:6 says, “Christ died for the ungodly.” And Mark 2:17 reminds us of Jesus words, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” God’s grace is for each of us no matter how horrible or dirty we feel. He came for you! To redeem you and cleanse you from sin and make you as pure as snow.

The second thought that came to me is that just like snow, the “stuff” of life tends to pile up on us if we aren’t vigilant. That is why it is so crucial for me to stay in the Word and prayer each morning. It’s a cleaning out of the cobwebs of my heart. All those little, and big, irritations, fears, worries, concerns, sins, hurts, and anger pile up like snow from a blizzard in the front yard of my mind. The enemy uses them to distract me from focusing on God’s purposes for me that day and to keep me bound up in sin and useless to the Lord because I am preoccupied with the cares of life. Just as Matthew 13:32 describes – “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful,” – I too can get caught up in worries and thoughts from the deceiver and become a fruitless vine. If I’m not going to the Father daily to confess sin and air out my inner closets, I find myself snowed in and alone, overwhelmed by life and at the end of my own strength. More snow falls into our life each day – whether personal sins or wounds from others or simply difficult life situations, so we must be vigilant to go to the Father every day and let Him help us shovel the sidewalks of our minds before the next snowstorm arrives.

So, wherever you live, be it tropical jungle or frozen tundra or anywhere in between, get alone with your Father. Listen to His Word. Express your heart to Him in prayer. Allow Him to clean out the piles and drifts and cobwebs so that you may be a useful tool in His hand today. And no matter what condemnation the enemy throws at you, remember Isaiah 1:18 – “They shall be as white as snow.”

Choose to Serve the King

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life . . .” Deuteronomy 30:15-16,19

When my oldest daughter was knee-deep in her preteen years, my husband and I began praying about instituting a marker of some sort. A type of “welcome to young art-backlit-beach-256807.jpgwomanhood” memorial stone, a keepsake for her future self to hold onto as the winds of life began to blow stronger and more forcefully. We wanted to have some hard conversations with her, speak truth to her, explain God’s standards for young womanhood, and pray over her. We wanted to prepare her heart and mind for the road ahead; to set a strong foundation so when temptations began knocking on her heart’s door she would have already made the decision about how she would respond. And we wanted to let her know, ultimately, whether or not she chose to serve the King with her life, that would have to be her choice. No matter how hard I might try, I can’t force my girl to love her Savior with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. That would have to be her decision wrapped up in the small decisions she made, and makes, every single day.

images1.jpegAs we were praying and researching I happened upon a “retreat in a box” called “Passport to Purity.” It was perfect. It was created to be a weekend getaway with mother and daughter, or father and son. It opened the door to those conversations about sex, sexuality, dating, and making wise choices. It gave the Biblical standard, God’s best, for keeping your heart, mind, and body pure concerning relationships with the opposite sex. It forced my husband and me to determine how we would help our girl live out God’s standards of purity in her life. It made us clearly define terms and boundaries and expectations. It also gave us opportunity to affirm and encourage the beautiful young woman she was becoming. We asked significant people in her life to write letters to her offering encouragement and exhortation specific to who she was. The retreat even laid out a plan for refreshment, instructing us to plan some fun in the midst of a weighty weekend.

nashville-603780_1280So we planned our trip. My girl was totally on board and excited about the prospect of this memory-making moment. I let her plan the location and the activity (Nashville and facials). I collected letters and prayed and prepared and we set off on our trip. But the Lord had a life altering surprise waiting for us. A spiritual marker that continues to impact my girl and me.

My daughter had been asking for years if she could get her ears pierced. I kept refusing her request. Looking back, I’m not even sure why I kept telling her no, except that the Lord had something beautiful in store. When she asked again on the way to our special trip, the Lord began whispering in my ear. “Make this a memorial stone. Make this a significant, tangible marker for her.” And He took me back to Exodus 21:1-6. In this passage, the law is stated for slaves. According to Hebraic law, slaves should serve for six years and the seventh they are to go free. But “if a slave plainly says, ‘I love my Master .  .  . I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.” According to this law, a pierced ear was an indication that you CHOSE to serve your master forever, because you loved your master.

As my daughter and I sat down to discuss some serious spiritual truth, I presented this truth to her. I prayed for her heart to be open and ready to hear. I prayed that she wouldn’t simply seek to get her way by telling me what she thought I wanted to hear. I this-way-718660_1280.pngasked for discernment as I listened to her responses to my questions. As we came to the end of our conversation, I asked her, “Will you choose to walk in the way of your Master? Will you choose to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Will you choose to serve Him with your life? Will you choose to submit to His ways? Will you choose to become a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18-19)?”

My girl had recognized her sin and her need for a Savior and asked Jesus to rescue her soul when she was six years old. This wasn’t a question of salvation, but of submission to the full Lordship of Jesus Christ. As I listened to her responses, as we cried together, as we prayed together, I believed she was indeed, with all the maturity a preteen can, offering me a sincere answer to my questions. So, after our facials we set off to the mall. Thankfully, boring the ear with an awl has given way to a little piercing gun. It was such a sweet, significant moment in my life, and I prayed it would truly be a memorial stone for her.

Flash forward eight years, my preteen is now about to turn 19. She’s walked through her middle, high school, and now her freshman year of college, in grace and truth. She’s stuck to her convictions in difficult places and spent lonely days as friends have forsaken her. She’s certainly had some obstacles and speed bumps along the way. She’s struggled. She’s longed for what others had. But she’s followed her Master and continues to ear-207405_1280surrender her life to Him. She actually had her ears triple pierced recently. I asked her why, and she took me back to that memorial stone moment. “Mom, it’s just a needed reminder that I belong to my Master. He is mine and I am His.” And I thank God for His gentle whispers and His grace and mercy, His Word, and the choice my girl made to serve her King. It’s not an easy choice, or an easy road, but He alone is worth it. Because there is none like Him.