OK OK I get it! When we hear those words, don’t we think ‘Please spare me the lame commercial!’? I’m going to take a wild guess here and assume most everyone who reads this is a friend from Michigan, or in a state with similar weather patterns. As I look outside, the sun is frozen on a horizon of slate and crystal. The number 27 glares at me from the thermometer and I think that it’s a nice number for age, but as an outdoor temperature it’s dreadful.
Winter comes to the north. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were outside in shorts and t-shirts with temperatures flirting with 80 degrees? How I want that weather forecaster to announce, ”But wait! There’s more!” That puts a new perspective on those words, doesn’t it? I want more sunshine, more warm temperatures, more dry roads for easier travel. “But wait! There’s more!”
Let me be completely transparent here about weather. I love living in a state where we have four distinct seasons. I love the way the browns and greys of winter stubble morph into brilliant greens in the spring. I love the gradual warming of frigid mornings into warm summer days. I love to look across a field and see heat shimmering above growing crops on acres of farmland. In autumn, I love the vibrancy of nature in the trees turning from green to yellow, red, and gold. I even love winter with its frosted windows, blankets of snow and icicles glistening along rooftops. I love all of that – and if I could hibernate like some of our Michigan animals, I wouldn’t even mind the snow mounds, days so grey the sun’s rays are completely obscured, and ice covered roads, impossible to traverse. We are not hibernating animals though, are we?
We usher in winter with Thanksgiving. Did you know that even in David’s day they had thanksgiving? Look at Psalm 147:11 (Message) “Sing to God a thanksgiving hymn, play music on your instruments to God.” Can you hear it? Later in that same chapter he appeals to his people to “Worship God! Praise God!” because of what He has done for them. You can read the chapter for yourself, but here is hope for your heart if you dreading the lingering winter. “He blessed your children, keeps the peace at your borders, he puts the best bread on your tables. He spreads snow like a white fleece, scatters frost like ashes — who can survive his winter? Then he gives the command and it all melts; he breathes on winter—suddenly it’s spring!” Psalm 147 (The Message)
Survival provisions for winter are obvious: a few extra food supplies, emergency flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, phone numbers within easy reach, ice melter, snow scooper, dry gas, blankets, water, de-icer, snow brush, COFFEE (I had to throw that in there). What about spiritual survival provisions for winter? Perhaps even more important is to go over the list of items we need to preserve our spirit, add to our faith, and keep us sane through months of containment. Start with recognition like this verse in Psalm 74:17 (Message) “You [God] own the day, you own the night; you put stars and sun in place. You laid out the four corners of earth, shaped the seasons of summer and winter.”
In God’s sovereignty, he created winter. Being thankful for it starts the creative process of making winter a time of restoration, instead of a prescription for destruction. Take stock of your spirit enhancing provisions. Good books, devotionals, colored pencils or highlighters, all occasion cards or blank cards, paper just for writing notes to yourself or making lists, an ample supply of postage stamps, access to addresses, good coffee, hot tea, and of course hot chocolate. Those are just ideas to promote winter in your conscience now so it grows to the essence of blessing, not a distillate curse.
You know there’s a perfect prayer to help us through the composition of our days whether the glow of summer or the afterglow of winter: Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV) “I pray that the Lord will bless and protect you, and that he will show you mercy and kindness. May the Lord be good to you and give you peace.”