I’ve always thought that the muddy ground, covered in snow, looks a lot like an endless iced brownie, making my decision to give up sugar for Lent much harder than I anticipated.
I do enjoy winter. Something about the billions of snowflakes, fluttering onto my hair, coat and the ground has always fascinated me. I love the way each snowfall is different. I love the way each snowflake is different. Snow freezes my complacency and thaws my sense of wonder.
When I hike through the snow-cloaked woods near my house, I am ready for Mr. Tumnus to pop out from behind a nearby tree, arms full of parcels, traipsing across the land of Narnia.
While spring is full of fresh starts, summer for new adventures and fall for nostalgia, winter has become my reflection season.
This winter, the Lord has consistently helped me reflect on the ideas of trust, joy and peace. Trust, because I love to plan. However, life with Christ is far from planned. The Lord has shown me the beauty in the not-knowing, the unplanned and the spontaneous. I can trust with full confidence, the one who set the galaxies in place, who created weather and seasons and who knows my heart.
Joy, because so often I forget to praise God for His love, grace, and mercy in my messy life. I can become so fixated on the messiness that I miss out on the little blessings and opportunities for worship that Christ gives me in the mundane. I forget that Christ has redeemed my life. I forget that He has overcome and I have no reason to fear. I forget that I am surrounded by a community of equally messy and equally loved brothers and sisters in Christ, who are strong where I am weak. I forget that after winter comes spring.
Peace, because when I rest in Christ’s goodness and only in His goodness, I can face harshness in life with warmth, celebrating His victory. The phrase “be still and know” can make me squirm. I desire certainty in the present. Christ promises hope in the future. Living in an all-girls dorm provides surprisingly few opportunities for true solitude or quiet time. :) Living with nearly 300 sweet women is equally crazy and wonderful. But stillness in Christ’s presence is often an afterthought.
I find that I experience Christ best when I am in nature. Something about the woods, the ocean, the mountains and the fields enthralls me. As a photographer and writer, no images or words could accurately represent the glory of God displayed through Creation. So I just soak it in. In those moments, peace envelops me as I see God’s handiwork surrounding me.
Psalm 23: 1-4 says:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The latter is one of those verses I can easily gloss over (especially after 13 years of Christian education). But lately, I’ve really resonated with those verses.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
The Lord will guide me; I will not trust my own plans.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
He brings restoration and peace.
“He restores my soul.”
He gives me the reason for joy.
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
He will guide me in the way of His will.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Even through the most trying times, He is here and He is real. I can trust in Him and have no reason to fear.
Winter in the Hoosier state is far from gone. The snow continues to fall and the wind continues to blow. Yet through all the craziness of February, I will continue to reflect on His goodness despite my brokenness. He is GOOD.