Submitted by Jennifer Power
A little over a week ago, temperatures dropped into the single digits for the first time this winter. On my daily commute, I cross Lake Decatur in two different places. One day, after the single digit temps had hit, I was driving across the lake and noticed the harsh beauty of the water. Clusters of ice had formed along the edges of the water and the lake had started freezing from the outside in. A light dusting of snow had fallen on the bare winter trees near the water, and the whole picture before me was striking.
That week prior I had been talking with the kids during our midweek and weekend education time about fear. We discussed how the waters and seas of the world were a source of great fear for people in Biblical times and how God regularly demonstrates His control of the waters and the seas throughout the Bible (creating the world, the flood, Jonah, parting of the Red Sea, Jesus calming the storm and walking on water, etc.). We discussed how God is in control of everything which even today causes us fear.
As I looked out at the winter water, I thought about how there can be such beauty in winter – yes, sometimes it is dull, grey, and draining, but there is also a stark beauty in winter unmatched in the other seasons – but that beauty comes at a price. The ice and snow might present a picture of beauty from inside the warmth of our homes but present a real danger to many on the road and those without shelter. And every parent knows that that beautiful freezing lake is a place to make sure our kids avoid.
I know God desires to speak to us in His creation, and that day, while driving over the freezing lake, God showed me a picture of the beauty, danger, fear, and pain of life held within the winter scene before me. In that moment, I sat in awe of the beauty while thinking of those who suffer from the cold and ice of the winter season. God promises to make all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and to work all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
In the small tradition church where I grew up, there was a lovely hymn we used to sing based on that verse in Ecclesiastes called In His Time. If you have a few minutes today, I encourage you to stop and listen to this song and to pause for a few minutes of silence with God to remember He is with you, loves you, and holds all the pain and beauty of this life in the palm of His hand.
One of the most amazing realizations I have received from God is that He desires for us to work alongside Him – that He desires to work through us rather than without us. In John 15, last week I talked about how we can be assured we will produce fruit that will last if we remain in Him and obey Him. For parents, I would encourage you to take advantage of this beautiful snow which has fallen on our earth today by playing outside with your kids. Check out these articles for some creative ways to have fun with your kids in the snow.
After you have played with your kids in the snow, talk with them about how winter can be a difficult time for many people who are without adequate shelter and make plans to do something together to ease this burden. You can then pray together for God to draw close to those who are cold and to protect people who are out driving in bad weather conditions as well as for those who have to work outside or who work as emergency responders, doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc.
Perhaps you can read together these articles about a couple local churches right here in Decatur who are providing shelter, blankets, and food for those without warm shelter on bitter cold night.
You can then talk about how Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” and what that means for our life and the lives of those around us.
May we all draw close to Him this winter – remembering Him as much as is possible and praising Him for who He is to us.