Monday, January 27, 2014

Let It Snow

South Carolina winters are completely unpredictable: 38 degrees one day, 52 the next.  And this year has been especially strange: 15 degrees in the morning, 40 in the afternoon. Our coveted snow days are usually ice storms or only a few inches but enough to cancel school and empty the bread and milk shelves at the grocery stores.  The following week, it might be dry and 68 degrees.  When we do have snow that "sticks" and lasts more than 1 day, we pull out the gloves, hats and scarves, build a snowman in the yard and a fire in the fireplace, read books and watch movies, and enjoy the winter wonderland where everything looks better, brighter, and cleaner.

2014 ski trip to Timberline
A few years ago on a ski trip bus ride, we observed how much better everything looks with snow. 

"Look at that pile of dirt."

"How about that rusted tractor in the yard?"

"Wow, look at that beautiful road and lake."

"An old shack, how pretty it looks with snow."

The shacks, tractors, lakes, and hills looked completely different covered in snow.  Why?  One reason is that the snow covers the imperfections.  We don't see the rust on the tractor, the dent on the car, or the mud on the steps.  A pile of rocks or dirt becomes a mound of white. We don't see the dirt between or underneath. Another reason is that snow makes everything look shiny and clean.  Before it's stepped on, the road is perfect.  Before they're skied on, the slopes look bright, smooth, untouched and clean. Pure.

Clean.  I honestly can't think of anything that isn't improved with a good washing.  Our cars? Shiny & Presentable.  Clothes? Fresher & Brighter.  Dishes? Squeaky & Sanitary. Our bodies?  Relaxed & Refreshed.

What do you enjoy about the beach? Sand, Sun, and the Surf?  I'm showing my age again, but I enjoy Seashells, Sleep, and the Shower.  I spend a few hours on the beach, sweaty and completely covered in sunscreen and sand. I play in the ocean even though I'm constantly on shark watch, then sit under the umbrella and read, but no matter what I do, I'm filthy, unclean.  The same happens after I work in the yard, covered in sunscreen, sweat, grass and dirt,  dirty. After I'm filthy dirty, there's no better washing.  I'm very far from being a germaphobe, but I do know that hygiene makes me feel better.  But that's not all.  Washing also keeps me healthy on the inside and much more pleasant to be around.      

Psalm 51:7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  v 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

A plant used by ancient Hebrews, hyssop's (esob - Holy herb) oil, either inhaled or used topically, was used to ritually purify and cleanse. In Psalm 51, David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing, confesses his guilt, and prays for pardon and restoration. British pastor Alexander Maclaren once said, "The alchemy of divine love can extract sweet perfumes of penitence and praise out of the filth of sin." (Believer's Bible Commentary) David didn't wish to be merely sprinkled with hyssop, an outward rite; he sought an internal change.   

We can clean our bodies, dishes, clothes, pets, and car with soap and water. But our sins are much deeper.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord, Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be white as snow.  Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

We usually associate scarlet and crimson with blood, and blood can be removed with good detergent and stain fighter.  But Isaiah was referring to scarlet as a glaring color that was double-dyed and colorfast. Wool dyed crimson was in high demand for princes and great men.  No effort of man could remove them.  Both were deeply set.

A recent sermon reminded me of the many impurities polluting my heart and mind. I strive with my own reasoning and give my best shot to make myself better, to cover my large pile of wrongs with deeds, smooth my rocky path with dreams and intentions, and sprinkle my sinful heart with inspirational words from men.  Imagine my disappointment when they're gone, and I'm left with the same stains.  That's when it's time to depend on His reasoning, His forgiveness and His restoration. My scarlet heart becomes pure white, covered by His love.

Yesterday, one of my favorite 7th graders said, "When I'm at home, I never want to take a shower, but I'm always glad to take one at the beach." Maggie Vickery, a girl after my own heart, knows what a good washing can do. 

Let It Snow,