By Jonathan Donker
Many times I have expressed that I love snow, the more the better. Having been born in Belgium, and having lived in Spain for the last ten years or so, snow has not been extremely abundant in my life. The only times snow has triggered a shot of adrenaline in my body has been occasionally on ski-trips in the French Alps with Young Life Catalonia.
Snow is amazing. In Europe there is an old Scandinavian language that has almost 200 words related to ice or snow (and about a thousand for Rudolf – the reindeer, no kidding). A couple of Sundays ago Dr. Schultz shared with us in his sermon that there is no such thing as two identical snowflakes. I thought that was amazing. Let us just reflect a little bit on that. I will not go into statistics here. Now, if you google ‘identical snowflakes’ you will find some similar looking flakes that are probably altered with Photoshop. For the scientists among us, did I see a hand? Some other factors that influence the symmetric shape of a snowflake are the humidity, temperature and air pressure. This brings us to a not-so-exact study that says that the largest snowflake ever was about 15 inches wide!
It is stunning what you can do with snow. Not only can you make a snowman, an angel, an igloo, have a snowball fight, visit snow trails and so on. You can also shovel it, salt it, wipe it off your car, slip because of it, and shake it off your clothes when you come home.
In the Bible the word snow is mentioned more than 20 times and white is found more than 700 times. In Psalm 51 David describes how he wants to be washed whiter than snow. The Son of Man in Revelation is described with his head and his hair being white as snow. The clothing of the angel that rolled back the stone was white as snow. I do not know how we will be dressed when the time comes for us to be dressed in white, but the stocks of the prestigious Italian clothing designer, United Colors of Benetton, will probably drop fast on Wall Street!!
Is snow related to the identity we have in Christ? Yes! Isaiah 1:18 says:”Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Jesus refers often to Isaiah, so it is probably a good canonical book to quote from. I do not want to be disrespectful but come on, now, let us argue it out – we are sinful. Think honestly about it, yes, even get depressed over it … you name it – we have done it. To use Dr. Wardle’s words: “I got stuff, you got stuff, we all got stuff.” Right now in our global city it seems that the streets are stained with crimson red like never before. It is not just the Middle East anymore. It is all making the rounds and coming to our doorsteps. But let us turn off the television or any other type of media screen for a bit, and think about ‘ourselves’. If it were not because of Jesus our Savior, who has dressed us with his snow-white holiness, where would we be? Personally, I would be terribly lost, swept from one extreme to the other, excited, yet confused, under bright lights, yet in darkness.
Jesus left the throne of heaven. There is no one Holy like the Lord and yet we have been made to share in his holiness (2 Peter 1:4). One beautiful song says ‘there is none like you’. Yet we participate as doers in that uniqueness (1 Peter 1:8-9). Often believers who act upon their awareness of the presence of Jesus almost become too spiritual. Does ‘too spiritual’ have a bad connotation? I do not think so. Too spiritual should be the ‘new normal’. It just means being filled with the Holy Spirit for people that experience it. If that causes some kind of negative or nervous reaction in us, we need to be even more nervous about this: we spend an average of five hours daily, sitting, watching flat faces that can even become multidimensional with 3D goggles.
We spend 13 hours a month- and young adults 22 hours a month – on the phone. Our adolescents send an average of six texts per hour around the clock, and avid texters send or receive over 40 messages daily! The result? Make your own conclusions. We seem driven to continuously, restlessly grasp for something to “fill us.” The more we strive, the more bored and anxious we seem to be. In contrast, Spirit-filled worship – real encounter with the living God – brings people out of their “media stupor”, whether individually or corporately, and that encounter often produces a whole gamete of human reactions. And we should not be surprised by these responses to God’s Spirit. Although it seems that David worshipped mostly by himself when he was young, it transformed him and prepared him for his public calling later on, and that transformation, that light in him, was not kept in hiding. He took off his cumbersome garments so he could dance for joy – publicly – before the Lord when the ark was recovered. But Saul’s daughter Michal despised David for embarrassing himself like that in public. However, God loved his dancing moves and gestures, and what delighted God most was his heart of worship. David’s dancing was Spirit-inspired, embodied worship. We should not be like Saul’s daughter, suspicious and overtly critical of embodied worship. Instead we need to explore just how God wants to express Himself to us and through us in very human and yes Spirit-filled ways.
There will always be critics of those who walk in the light and reflect the “snow” – the glory of that light. Can we ever really satisfy the expectations of humankind? No! But the good news is that we can satisfy God’s expectations. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. 2 Chronicles 16:9 states: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him.” My prayer is: “Lord, continue to fill my heart with more of your Spirit so that my walk and my talk will need no further explanation and that it will just naturally reflect your snow-white glory.” I want to encourage us to search for embodied intimacy with our Creator so that our spirituality will flow from the Spirit and into and through our inner beings (2 Corinthians 3:18) so that when it becomes embodied light and truth, whether individually or together, the church, the world, yes, even our enemies, will detect divine love on their radars.
Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole,
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow.
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
In Christ we are many things: beloved, chosen, adopted, redeemed, restored, healed, dressed with the righteousness of Christ, filled and sealed with the Holy Spirit, and many more things. May I add to this list… In him we are whiter than snow?
I love snow! May the embodied light of the snow of God’s Spirit in me reflect in ways, both strange and normal, the wonderful love of Jesus to a watching world.