Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Whiter Than Snow

Until this week, the Idaho Panhandle had been having an uncommonly mild winter. In fact, until this week, the cheatgrass around our house had sprung up to declare an early spring, and one little miniature rose bush in our garden had been stubbornly holding on to a last vibrant show of tiny orange-gold blooms.

But this week, winter caught up with us in a big way. We awakened this morning to find that a big, beautiful, fat, snowfall had blanketed the landscape. The snow covered the blemishes of the dead garden and hid the bare, frozen ground beneath.

It was a transforming snow, softening the weedy, rocky hills that form the canyon of the Clearwater River. Even the straggly pines along the banks of the river became lovely sculptures under its graceful hand. It also threat
ened power lines and turned the roads into ice skating rinks. I always marvel something so delicate and fragile can change a landscape and transform the course of human lives so dramatically.

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

No wonder God used snow to describe one of His most amazing attributes: the purifying power of His mercy. Snowflakes are intricate, fragile, and exquisitely lovely particles of frozen vapor possessing the collective power to alter everything upon which they rest. In like fashion, mercy falls delicately from heaven upon our frozen, barren lives. It covers our sins and imperfections and powerfully transforms even our bleakest landscapes into works of beauty.

Have mercy upon me, O God,
...According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 51:1

Mercy, like a snowflake, is a mysterious force; individual in nature; completely unfathomable; so totally new and breathtaking every time it falls. Its mere presence inspires awe. It reflects the light by day and makes even the darkness bright. It arrives at the season of our lives in which everything has died and turned cold. It comes in abundance, obliterating past footsteps and covering our dirt. Blemishes become completely white. The parts of our landscape that cannot be changed are softened by its hand.

"Come now, and let us reason together,"
says the LORD,
"Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow...."
Isaiah 1:18

This afternoon, the snow has let up a bit. My husband has been out clearing the pathways. Man and animals have trampled the snow and marred the pristine landscape. But another snow is coming. We will probably awaken tomorrow morning to find that a brand- new snowfall has repaired the damage to its beauty. Once again, everything will be sparkling.



Exactly like us when we look to the sky for God's mercy to fall. It never fails. Dirty, bedraggled, cold, and dead, we lift up our faces to the heavens, and before long the first delicate flakes caress our faces: pure, amazing, gentle,
powerful mercy.

The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:23