I’ve flown back and forth across this great land of ours many times. During the winter months, at least on a trek from Chicago westward, it’s not at all unusual to look down and see nothing but white for the better part of three or four hours. Even the Rocky Mountains can get blurred by enough freshly fallen powder. The ground below simply looks white. A veritable frozen tundra, or so it appears – but without the up-close-and-personal perspective with which we’ve been able to observe winter around here this week.
Some of you parents have told me that a full week of snow days is about as much “up-close-and-personal” as you can take, but that’s another topic for another day.
When Eileen visited Alaska, she was struck by the huge chunks of ice calving off the edges of the glaciers and crashing into the deep blue (and even deep green) sea. This amazing phenomenon she had never witnessed before. The captivating beauty of those massive fields of ice that are powerful enough to carve channels through a range of mountains almost defies description.
The English statesman and scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626) said that God has given us two books to study. One is the Scriptures, and the other is the natural realm. He believed that, for us to really know God, we need both books. Bacon’s contention was that – without natural revelation – we miss much of God’s beauty, majesty, and greatness.
Are you taking the time to notice how God is at work in the details of the ice, and are you praising Him for it?
I regret that this photograph doesn’t really capture the size of the biggest icicle that I could find in Paducah. (I should have stood under it, but then who would have taken the picture?) Its length (from the awning of a restaurant on Lone Oak Road) was between five and six feet. If you look carefully, you can see a glazed power line in the background just for a little perspective.
I tried numerous attempts to photograph some of the ice-covered trees with just the right amount of light to capture the “glowing” that I’m sure you’ve observed the last couple of days. The problem is: once the sun does its thing and lights up those branches, a sure melt is not far behind. And evening photography with street lights just doesn’t quite mimic the sun.
In 1881 John Muir, American naturalist and Christian believer, spent several months exploring what is now called Glacier Bay in Alaska. Muir remarked after hiking one particular glacier that he had rejoiced “in the possession of so blessed a day, and feeling … we have been in one of God’s own temples and had seen him and heard him working and preaching like a man.”
Like John Muir advised his missionary friend: “Keep close to Nature’s heart … It will help you in your efforts to bring these men something better than gold. Don’t lose your freedom and your love of the Earth as God made it.”
Beloved, we’re observing more than ice. It’s more than frozen water. More than a brittle, transparent, crystalline solid. We’re observing the work of God’s hands! Delight in it. Delight in Him.
David wrote, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving”(Psalm 69:30). How we choose to view God’s glory in winter may just make a difference in the life of someone else. That’s our job: to make God look just as great as He is, as often as we can, wherever we can, and however we can.
We’re not slick salesmen tricking people into buying something they don’t need. We’re ambassadors for Christ, and the best thing that we can ever do for another wanderer is to point them to the reality that Jesus is Lord. When they begin to grasp something of Christ’s majesty and glory even in the fallout from “freezing rain,” then we will have helped them find the road (albeit sometimes snow-covered) to their greatest joy.
Let them see you marveling at the unique and undeniable frozen beauty that only an extra-cold winter can reveal.