1 Reason to Love Winter Storms

The temperature outside is 5ºF on its way to a balmy 15º this afternoon. This weather reminds me of winter days at home when I was a child.

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Memories of Home

Home. In my mind I see a moss rock fireplace, the heart of my childhood home. We sprayed the rocks with water to keep the ancient lichens on the rocks, chartreuses, grays, and olive greens, alive and growing. The sweet fragrance of spring rain filled the air no matter what season it was outside. Many of my winter memories center on that fireplace. Our home nestled into the Colorado foothills at about 8000 feet. Just about the time the calendar said winter should be giving way to spring, we’d be buried in a blizzard.

I crawl from deep slumber into that drowsy zone in between waking and sleeping. My dad’s voice rumbles on the telephone. Outside my window there isn’t the slightest hint of dawn. He is the superintendent of schools in our mountain school district. When I hear him asking the principals of one school and then another about how much snow has fallen in their area I know it is going to be a good day. By mid-morning my little sister and I trudge to the top of our steep driveway and fly on sleds down toward home. We make snow angels. When our hands and feet grow numb we shed layers of wet clothes by the door and head toward the cheerful yellow flames dancing in the fireplace, steam rising from our bodies as we warm the front side first, then the back. The cold never reaches my heart. As long as my mama is there, home is a warm place.

 

The Good Thing About Having No Electricity

If it is an especially good blizzard the lights and hums in the house waver and die just as the shrouded sun dips behind Mt. Evans to the west. Without electricity we have no electric heat, no functioning kitchen appliances, and no pump to bring water into the house from the well. My sister and I don’t miss them. Rich beef stew and hot chocolate steam in the fireplace. We scramble after candles, games, and sleeping bags in the gathering dark. As dusk deepens into dark our parents join us for games of crazy eights. At bedtime we line up in a row feet to the fire, warmed by it and by love. We tell stories. Giggles fade into snores. Electricity intrudes in the night. By morning the roads are plowed. Sunlight turns every snow crystal into a diamond. We bundle up to meet the school bus.

I live in the suburbs now. Snows lack the magic they held when I was a child, but I still can’t help greeting frigid temperatures and deep accumulations with glee. Wintery days help me touch home. It occurs to me that my memories of home are rare gems. Most people I know have places to live, but some have never been home. Home is lighted by love and warmed by the fire of presence. Home is laughter and nourishment. Home is a place to rest fully and deeply. Home is safety and shelter no matter the ferocity of the storm that engulfs. People with homes even play outside during storms because they can go inside and warm up.

The Reason I Play During the Storms of Life

In John 15 and in 1 John 2 Jesus tells us to abide in him. Abide. Live in him. How do we make him our home? In John 17, shortly before his death, Jesus talks to the Father and allows us to eavesdrop on their cosmic conversation. Of all the things in the universe to talk about, just before he is to suffer and die, what does he say? He prays for us. Jesus asks that, just as the Father is in the son, and the son is in the Father, his people would be in them. This is beyond my ability to understand. I can almost understand that since eternity past the Father and Son have had such love, such intimacy, that they can be said to be “in” one another. But that we, mere creations, can be brought “in” too? It could never happen until Christ’s death changed us. He recreated us. Now God himself is to be my home.

You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. (Exodus 15:13)

God leads his redeemed people to his home. Where is God’s home? He is present everywhere but there are places where he is present in a special way. When the children of Israel lived in the desert wandering, God lived in the tabernacle. Later God lived in the temple, in the holy of holies. God gave very detailed instructions about his home. Some objects were not to be touched and with one carefully controlled exception, people were excluded from the holy of holies because they would die from entering the heart of God’s home. No one could be in the unveiled presence of Yahweh and live. When Jesus died, the curtain that divided the people from the Presence ripped top to bottom. Through his death God’s redeemed people were made as holy as the temple.

Even more wonderful, terrifying, and mysterious Jesus says that he is in us. (John 17:23) The almighty no longer makes his home in the desert tabernacle, or in the Jerusalem temple but in the hearts of his children, even in my heart. As a girl I read a booklet entitled, “My Heart Christ’s Home”. My heart, Christ’s home. When God leads me to his home, he leads me to myself, my true self. I am now the exquisitely carved, intentionally placed temple of God, the redeemed new creation. When God leads me to his home, the awesome God who spoke the universe into existence comes home to me. It is mystery. I am intrigued, and drawn, and frightened. He transforms me from a vacant property into a home. He brings life to my very core. I am lighted by his fire, filled with love and presence. I am furnished and equipped so that the awesome God is at home in me. With him in residence, I am sheltered no matter what blizzard rages around me. With him there is laughter and nourishment, safety and rest. With Him I am filled with the scent of spring even in the dead of winter.

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