For most of my life, snow was in the same category as kangaroos, koala bears and the hilarious king penguin. That is, I knew it existed and I sure would like to see it someday, but for the most part it was relegated to television.
Well, not entirely, but you get my point.
Where I grew up in the South, a snow day was a once-every-two-year event, with perhaps 2-3 inches of accumulation that closed school for several days and back country roads for a week. As a child, the formula was simple: snow = several days out of school = fun.
I still like snow, but my enjoyment has been somewhat tempered. That happens when you and your family move to a Midwest location in the middle of the worst winter in years. That first winter we received 50 inches of snow in about two and a half months, not to mention a blizzard warning on one night and a -45 degree Fahrenheit wind chill on another night (yes, seriously).
I’ve been on both sides of the snow “fence.” I still enjoy sledding in it and I really do enjoy working outside on a snowy weekend with my oldest son. I even like hiking in it. But I no longer love snow – particularly when it falls on a weekday.
My changing perspective on snow has led me to wonder: How does snow reflect God’s glory? It’s one of the most beautiful parts of God’s creation, but so many people I respect – people who love the Lord – hate it. And at times, I do, too.
It’s easy to see God’s glory during the spring, but what about winter, when we’re surrounded by the white stuff in the midst of sub-freezing temps?
Well, snow really does reflect God’s glory – in every way imaginable. Here are four ways:
1. It’s beautiful. Don’t think about frigid fingertips, icy sidewalks and diesel-fueled snow plows. Instead, simply picture a quiet rural setting: a snow-covered field, surrounded by snow-covered trees and a snow-drenched fence — with a large red barn right in the middle. Marvelous, isn’t it? Believe it or not, the Bible speaks positively about snow. Job 37:5 calls it one of the “great things that we cannot comprehend.” If you’ve ever seen a microscopic picture of a snowflake, you’ll certainly agree. Isaiah 1:18 tells us that through God’s forgiveness, our sins may be “white as snow.” And what was the color of the angel at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:3)? Again, “white as snow.” No, those latter two verses aren’t primarily about snow, but surely God wouldn’t compare something as wonderful as forgiveness and holiness to something He abhors. Maybe snow is God’s way of redeeming the winter, by giving a dead, lifeless landscape a sheet of beauty in the simplest of forms. It’s as if God is saying: Even during this — the worst of seasons — you will see My glory.
2. It’s fun. Think back to how you once viewed snow: You’d sled and throw snowballs, and even build snow men and snow forts. All the kids in the neighborhood would get together, and at the end of the day everyone would drink hot chocolate. You know what? It’s still fun. What other season turns every hill into a roller coaster – and provides protective padding to boot? God intended for us to enjoy His creation – and in turn praise Him for it. The other day my children and I bundled up and went outside just to sled. After about 30 minutes and with temperatures hovering around 20, I thought we should quit and go inside, but all three kids begged to sled just a few more times. So we played a few more minutes – and they still didn’t want to quit. Maybe it’s time we all recaptured that child-like excitement.
3. It’s humbling. The Lord commands us to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), but I think every now and then He sends snow simply to make us slow down. That beautiful sheet of snow that gently covers a rural landscape also can transform a hustling-and-bustling city into a virtual ghost town. Schools close. People stay home from work. Roads empty. Flights are grounded. Suddenly, our busy day-to-day lives are turned upside down, and we’re sitting on the couch sipping hot coffee, staring out the window. Perhaps God is shouting to us in the midst of the snow storm: You’re not in control! Or perhaps He’s just whispering: Don’t forget about Me today. Snow forces us to slow down, simplify … and ponder what’s most important.
4. It’s horrible. Snow is beautiful, yes, but it’s also cold. And slippery. And dangerous. And did I mention cold? (Oh yeah, I did.) And it falls during winter, the season in which we hope simply to survive. Winter is about death. Spring, on the other hand, is colorful and full of life. We thrive during spring. Sure, snow can be wonderful, but it’s not spring. We try to make the best of winter, but few children would rather sled than ride bikes, or build a snowman than swim. They’re like us: They’re rather have springtime. All of those wonderful signs of life mentioned in Genesis 1 – the fruit trees and the green plants and the wildlife? They’re nowhere to be found during cold weather. Bears dislike cold weather so much that they sleep through the whole thing. And geese and other migratory birds? They don’t like it, either – they flee. Without spring, there are no butterflies, no buttercups, no cherry blossoms, no caterpillars, no honeybees.
Winter glorifies God in part because of its horribleness – in the fact that it makes us long for the best parts of His creations. There is a Gospel message here that we shouldn’t miss. During winter, we anticipate and long for new life – yellow flowers blooming, tiny seeds growing, baby birds chirping. It’s a parallel to how we, as Christians, anticipate and long for heaven, where we’ll experience eternity without sin, with glorified bodies, in the presence of the Savior. It’s also a reminder of how Christ conquered death and rose from the grave – right in the middle of spring. Martin Luther may have said it best: “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”
So yes, snow is wonderful, but it’s also horrible. I guess that means during the great “snow debate,” everyone is right.
Suggested children’s book: Bunny’s First Spring (Sally Lloyd-Jones)
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes stove top popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public). Also, check out my video section.