Monday, February 25, 2013

White Whispers

It started with mere whispers of white. Tiny snowflakes fell from the sky, dusting the ground. At first glance out the window, it didn’t appear to be snowing, merely overcast. On a closer look, however, I realized the smallest of flakes filled the wintry sky. With such small flakes, it didn’t seem that more than a trace of snow would accumulate on the ground.

When I next looked out the window, about an hour later, I noticed about ½ inch of the white flakes covering my front sidewalk. Before long, the flakes grew fat and full, filling the sky with a flurry of white. The snow fell so thickly I could barely see the buildings across the street.  By day’s end, five inches of snow coated my yard, the driveway, and the street in a spotless blanket of white.

On the evening news, forecasters predicted more snow overnight. They were right.  When I looked out the window in the morning, I could hardly believe my eyes. Every surface on our patio sported huge mounds of white, towering like volcanoes into the wintry day. One of the two steps down to our patio had completely disappeared, buried under white crystals. Eight more inches had fallen overnight and more fell that afternoon, giving us a total snowfall of over 14 inches.

That afternoon I tramped around the yard in knee-deep snow, trying to capture the beauty of the white-frosted yard with my digital camera. Everywhere I looked my eyes feasted on loveliness. As my boots sank through the snow, I noticed the lack of noise. The snow muffled sound as if the whole neighborhood were wrapped in a fluffy cocoon.

The world slowed. Schools cancelled classes, meeting dates changed, businesses closed. For a few days our winter-wrapped world was muted. Still. Slow. Quiet enough to hear the tiniest of whispers.

Only when I allow my soul to be still can I hear the voice of God’s heart whispers. When I first take time for solitude, I later hear that still, small voice through the busiest and loudest of circumstances.

Father God, still me. Slow me down. Let me listen to your soul whispers.

Psalm 46:10a “Be still and know that I am God.”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blow Wind, Blow

What a warm, windy day for a walk. In the gorgeous 65 degree February weather, I ventured outdoors to walk the nature trails.  Even in the middle of winter, with the trees shorn of their green summer finery, I enjoyed my walk along the paths that meander across meadows, beside the stream, and through the forest.

Even though I walked alone, the wind became my constant companion. At times the wind pushed from behind, its gusts quickening my steps. Other times, it blew at me from the side, causing my hair to fly all around and into my eyes and mouth. When the wind blew straight toward me, it cooled my exercise-warmed face.

At other times, the wind left my side and blew high above me. Though I couldn’t see or feel it, I was still aware of its presence. As it blew through the treetops high above me, the bare branches creaked and groaned from its force. Rushing through the treetops the wind whooshed along, reminding me it was still near.

As I listened to its rushing noise I remembered the passage in Acts, chapter two, where I learned that the Holy Spirit first appeared like a rushing wind. Today I listened to the wind in the trees and I wondered: how often does God’s Spirit rush near me and I fail to listen? How often does God’s Spirit push at me from behind, urging me to step up, and I ignore it? How often do I fail to respond to the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit?

Father God, open my eyes and ears to see and hear your Spirit working in my life, and teach me how to respond to its influence.

John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nothing but Blue

Walking in the woods this winter, I see a bare, stark landscape. The leaves, dropped this fall, lie lifeless along the pathways and the forest floor. Thin and wheat-colored, the grass bordering the path waves in the breeze. Brown, black, and gray tree trunks block out the light. Without their summer finery, their branches look twisted and bare.

On this warm February day, I walk along the nature trails. Everything around me is bland, devoid of color. Rounding a bend in the path, I come to an area that has recently been stripped. Once, evergreen trees dotted this area, surrounded by bluegrass and other natural prairie grasses. But the bulldozers moved in, using their massive teeth to rip and tear the trees from their home. A clearing larger than a football field is now littered with torn and shredded branches, the only remains of the once beautiful trees.
I’m saddened at the destruction. In this bleak landscape my eyes long for color. Following the meandering path, I spy a few remaining evergreen trees. But they’ve lost their bright summer green. Bleached by freezing temperatures and extreme drought, their forest green clothing has changed to a dull greenish-brown. As the path winds back through the bare walnut, cottonwood, and locust trees, I notice their long shadows creating eerie patterns in the hard-packed earth.
For some reason, I look up. There between the bare tree limbs, I see it: the bright, beautiful blue sky. Looking around at the sky, I see nothing but blue. A clear blue dome stretches from horizon to horizon, covering the otherwise stark landscape as if it were holding winter’s bleakness in a gentle embrace.

I rejoice in the lovely blue color surrounding all the dull landscape. And I smile.
Sometimes life here on earth can seem like a dull winter landscape. All can seem colorless, twisted, and destroyed. But when I turn my thoughts upward, toward God, my eyes are once again opened to His beauty. I am reminded that God’s grace covers me and brightens the bleakest of days.

Father God, keep my thoughts on your goodness and grace. When I walk along life’s bleak pathways, help me focus on Your beauty and grace.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”