THE ABIDING LIFE
By Gwen Sellers
We got our first snow of the season here. It was kind of crazy actually. A sunny, warm autumn morning fooled many of us into thinking it would be a light jacket kind of day. But a storm front rolled in and the temperature dropped fifty degrees in five hours. Thankfully most Coloradoans understand the importance of layers and being prepared, especially this time of year, but many were taken off guard by the speed of the change, expecting winter to wander in overnight. I certainly wished I'd brought more layers with me. Now we're in full-on winter mode with highs in the single digits and teens. At least for the next few days.
Weather is a strange thing. We joke about weather being the topic of small talk when silence is too awkward and real conversation is impossible. But weather really does play a big role in our lives. I wonder how much we can learn about God by simply paying attention to the weather.
As I think about our recent plunge into winter, I'm reminded how quickly life can shift. One phone call, a decision to turn left instead of right, a diagnosis, a new job opportunity, etc. Sometimes the change involves a lot of suffering. Sometimes the change is an unanticipated joy. Sometimes we have a little forewarning. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes none. Without God in the picture, this reality would scare me paralyzed. I am not in control. I can plan and prepare and make wise decisions. But ultimately I have no say in the outcome.
That being said, I certainly do have a say in how I choose to respond. The weather is completely out of my control, but I am not merely its victim. I can look at the weather forecast, pay attention to the sky, notice the temperature, and recognize that weather patterns where I live are a bit volatile so traveling with winter survival gear is not a bad idea no matter what season the calendar claims. Life is similar. I can plan as best as possible based on how things appear to be progressing and also stow a survival kit of sorts for unexpected changes. That survival kit consists of practical things like medical insurance, a savings account, making sure someone has all my pertinent information and an extra set of keys, etc. It also consists of developing healthy relationships with others. Even non-religious people will tell you that a system of support is vital in navigating through life. Of course developing and maintaining healthy habits — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — will strengthen me for any changes that might be coming. Perspective and attitude are key when dealing with life change. But all these things are really not unique to the Christian faith. And while they are helpful, they will not be able to withstand the biggest storms of life. As I said earlier, without God, I would be paralyzed.
An interesting thing to me about winter is that it is a time when the land rests. I've always thought of winter as "dark, cold, and horrible." Frankly, it's a season I've more often than not preferred to do without. But when I think about winter in terms of rest, my heart softens. Rather than fight against the dark and cold, I'm going to try to accept it for what it is. I don't need to battle against winter, trying to make it feel like summer. I don't need to approach the season ready to weather a storm. What I need to do is recognize that God does exist. He is in control. More than that, He loves me. My life survival kit isn't going to get me through this life. But God will. I can rest because I rest in Him.
So as I pull out my winter clothes and get back in the habit of driving in the dark and cold so that I can keep up those healthy relationships, I'm going to remember that these things are useful and good. I'm going to thank God for weather forecasts and life instructions and people to do life with. I'm going to thank Him for giving us forewarning for a lot of things. But I'm also going to remember that being prepared or having friends isn't my all. My coat isn't going to stop me from getting into a car accident. My friends aren't going to give my life purpose. Knowing what is ahead won't protect me from it. Actually, I don't know that I really want to be protected from it. The life Jesus promises is life to the full (John 10:10). As someone recently said to a group I was in, a full life doesn't mean just full of things we like. It is fullness in its complete sense, highs and lows. When I stop to really think about it, that is the life I want, the One my Father has planned for me, the One Jesus died to give me. I want a life that is full of God. I want the life where I rest in the arms of my Abba Father, who not only knows what life holds, but controls the outcome.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. […] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28, 31-32, 37-39).
Image Credit: Marie and Alistair Knock; "View from the living room window"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Personal-Life | Personal-Relationships
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Published on 11-13-14