Back at Christmas I posted a little teaser about loving snow and promised to come back to it. Well – it’s time! We’ve just had a 13″ snow this week and, earlier this winter, Adele/I took a little time away in snowlands where we enjoyed 25″-30″ there!!
Many years ago (decades – wow), I went through what was, at the time and without question, the greatest challenge and growth opportunity my soul had known to that point. And I failed. Miserably. I made horrible decisions, given the commitments/devotions I had previously made. I ran terrifying risks, without faith as my motivation. My thinking processes were self-absorbed. I hurt people – good people.
Like everyone else, I had a million excuses to explain myself: physical and mental fatigue, external expectations and pressures, internal exhaustion prompted by an intense season of professional stress, feeling ignored by people I valued, etc.
And, like everyone else, there were a few reasons as well: lack of community (trying to live Christ-like all by myself), taking my relationship with God for granted (rather than leaning into it through soul aerobics), and no confessional relationships (no full-on honesty, resulting in absolutely no transparency).
Like I said, I failed.
I was fortunate to be serving with a pastor who wouldn’t give up on me. He made arrangements with contacts to help me provide, fiscally, for my family and saw to it that I sought counsel. He hung in there with me – encouraging me, in time, to give vocational ministry another chance.
After months off and a healing season, I received a phone call which was mysterious enough in origin that it prompted me to reconsider the work I had left. However, having learned some pretty heavy lessons, I wouldn’t move past an initial telephone call without a TMI (too much information) talk with my Church suitors. With all the cards on the table, they invited us to join them and away our almost-always-southern-living family moved… to wild and wonderful West Virginia!
The Church was appropriately named Grace. They were a younger congregation and I was their 1st associate pastor of everything. My office was the corner of a larger Sunday School classroom in the rear of the “new building.”
But, don’t feel bad for me: I had an incredible window on our Father’s world. It was a huge window that looked out on a hillside. It was an unforgettable view. Here’s why:
We moved the first of a year and I watched the snows already there give way to Spring green, Summer greener and Fall brown. Nearing the end of that Fall season I really noticed the hillside for, maybe, the 1st time… deserted now of a soft grass bed; abandoned by the full color of freshly fallen leaves, dotted instead with piles of dead/decaying leaves; and creased with craters from the Fall rains. Two words: ug-ly.
I was in the office one day – I’ve no idea exactly what I was doing – when it started: my 1st, 1st snow-of-the-season there. I was like a little kid, all giddy on the inside (as I said, we’d been living in the south for years). I called Adele to tell her I’d finish up a few things and be on home.
But then something happened… as I watched the snow I saw the result. It was the hill… the craters were filled in. Then the brown ground was covered. Finally the lumps of leaves were leveled and smoothed over. It only took an hour or so, but it was a transformation made in heaven. It was incredible. God was so gracious to that hillside.
I fell to the floor in sobs. Holy Spirit spoke with clarity and said, “Millwood… though the craters, barren spots, and lifeless lumps in your soul seem like bright, red scares that others cannot take their eyes off of, I will make them white – fluffy – smooth – like that hillside – like this snowfall… beautiful. Trust Me.”
Like I said, it’s been decades but I will never forget that day. Ever since then snowfall – especially the 1st snow of the season – has been a spiritual moment for me. I push away from my desk. I’ve cancelled appointments for it. I grab a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate, if I’m home) and park at a window. I sit. I watch. I talk with our Father. I cry. I remember. I praise God. I find grace again. For me, there is NO business like SNOW business.