February 24, 2015

The Gathering Snow

Not long ago I wrote about what we can learn from the withered grass of these winter months. But such lessons have been a little more difficult to visualize in these recent days, have they not? The brown grass is still with us, of course … but it is buried beneath a blanket of glittering white! And the snow brings its lessons, too – about the forgiveness of sins (Isaiah 1.19), and also about the certainty with which the word of God accomplishes its work:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55.10-11

So the snow is accomplishing something, isn’t it? Something beautiful, in fact! It is part of God’s plan for making the crops grow, and thus putting bread on our tables. But we won’t really begin to see the fruits of it all until spring! The snow is achieving God’s purpose … s l o w l y.

And, while Isaiah does not make this point himself, it occurs to me that this is often how God’s word accomplishes its work, too – slowly; gradually; like the snow.

Sometimes we pour out the water of God’s word, as it were, in the warmth of May. We share Jesus with co-workers, we teach the Bible to our children, we give our Sunday School lessons and sermons … and we see fruit blossoming fairly quickly, as with the spring rains. People take the truth in, and it makes an immediate difference in their lives. And we rejoice in the fresh blooms of springtime!

But other times, we empty the blessing-clouds of God’s word during a spiritual winter. Sometimes the atmosphere into which we speak God’s truth is a fairly cold one. And so the word goes forth more like snow than like rain. The truth still goes out, yes! But much of it seems just to gather on the surface of the ground, the spiritual chill preventing most of it from trickling into the soil. And that can be discouraging. It can feel, in the short term, like much of our watering has been in vain. But we must pray and wait for spring! We must pray and wait for warmer spiritual days, when the temperature of men’s souls will rise, and the snow will begin to melt, and the ground of people’s hearts will be soft once again … and the word that was there all along will begin to sink in. And when those days come, we may just find that much of what we sowed in the winter will produce far more fruit that we thought!  Indeed, the snow of winter will be one of the reasons the spring is so fruitful!

So do not lose heart, you who water the earth with God’s word. Both rain and snow – the word showered forth in warm seasons and in cold – will achieve God’s good purposes! 

 Keep pouring it forth!

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