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Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Power of a Snowstorm

A few days ago I was visiting with my sister and she described the huge shutdown on the coast in Washington state because of the snowstorm.  I am not always very sympathetic when the coasts complain about snowstorms.  It seems to me that when I watch the news media, there are often blizzards and deep snows throughout the plains and mountain states, but whenever it lands on the coasts, suddenly it is an emergency situation worthy of national news! 

I remember with a chuckle the time when Barack Obama was president and after arriving in D.C., they had a snow accumulation of an inch or so and shut everything down.  Then President Obama laughed and said that he was just flabbergasted that everything was shut down over such a small amount of snow, because back in Chicago it would have been considered a mere dusting and people would have been out playing in it (as close as I can recall his words).   And, as my sister pointed out, I need to remember that they have steep hills there that make a difference, and since they don’t get heavy snow very often, they don’t have the equipment to handle it.  I think the latter point is the significant one, because, last time I checked, Colorado gets lots of snow and has some pretty steep “hills,” but manages to handle snow crises in ways that help them keep going.  

Another fun example was when, a few years ago, my wife and I drove down to Dallas late one winter for a family event, and the whole city was paralyzed because they had a snow of an inch or two.  Driving into the city, as I observed people on the road, I quickly got off the four lane highway as it was obvious the people had no idea how to drive appropriately in the snow and were risking multiple accidents.  On the side streets, I ended up making much better time and avoided inexperienced drivers, even though those streets had not been cleared at all.

We are seeing snow all over the place this week.  I read an article from Flagstaff, Arizona describing their record snowfall, and have seen other reports of the snow down there, reminding me of the time we drove our exchange student to the Grand Canyon only to find that there was a record breaking snow storm then, too.  

As I write this, it is on the Sunday after our community received approximately another 8” of snow on top of the previous 5 or 6 inches still on the ground.  Crews have been out working through the night and morning.   (And, I might add, having driving into Omaha the day after the last big snowfall, these crews up here do a good job of taking these storms in stride!)  At the same time, I know some major highways nearby have had significant closures because of the storm, the drifts and accidents, so even here these things can have impact.

Today, many churches cancelled their services, yesterday when I stopped at a local bank branch they had a sign up announcing an early closure due to the blizzard conditions.  When I went dog walking this morning, I had to first shovel a path so we could get to the street since the snow everywhere else was too deep to walk in, and then off we went.
Flooding, blizzards, drought, earthquakes and other natural disasters can shut down human activity in a matter of minutes, can’t they?  

I have been in many an ice storm that left many homes without power in just a matter of minutes.  In fact, I have always been struck by the highways and roads that we put down which, despite the latest technology, often end up with potholes due to freezing and thawing, and upheaval of segments due to the same thing and heat exposure.  The best of our technology is really not as powerful as we think it is.  

These things remind me of the questions God asked of Job in Job 38-41, such as this passage from Job 38:22 (ESV)—
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,”

Those questions asked of Job were designed to remind him that God is God, and Job was not.  Neither are we.  Snowstorms such as this one can remind us of how fragile the constructions of our lives are. Despite what we like to tell ourselves, we are not as in control as we think we are, nor are we quite as powerful as we might like to think. 

I like how this same concept is pointed out in Natalie Grant’s song, “The King of the World.”  Here are a few of the lyrics from this song written by Natalie Grant, Sam Mizell, and Becca Mizell:

When did I forget that You've always been the King of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small?
When You're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that You've always been the King of the world?

Just a whisper of Your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead?

Whether it is a snow storm, a drought, a divorce, a devastating illness or whichever of life’s challenges you face that just seem too overwhelming and leave you feeling powerless, I urge you to let those circumstances remind you that God is the King of the World and we are not.  

Let those huge events remind you to not make God small in your own life, to remember who it is who can tame the seas and who it is that can simply ride on the waves in a tiny boat.  And then, let it cause you to reflect on who you really lean on to get you through those tough times, your own limited knowledge and ability, or the God who is and always has been, the King of the World.  As I pointed out to my congregation recently, that phrase, King of the World, is a phrase common in Jewish prayers.  Sometimes it is translated that way, but there is another translation that I like, which reminds me of who God really is:  Master of the Universe.  

I haven’t seen the heavenly storehouses of snow any more than Job has, only the little bit that has happened to land near me.  Scientists today describe how these snowflakes are created, the various processes and temperatures involved.  I recently ran across of the  photographic work of Don Komarechka of Canada, which depicts the amazing construction of snowflakes…much more beautiful, delicate, intricate and varied than you might think. 
 Don Komarechka Snowflake Gallery

Just looking at the amazingly beautiful detail of this white stuff so many of us curse, and thinking of the artistry God uses to create this troublesome fluff, which only lasts but for a brief time before melting away, causes me to realize how amazingly great God is, and how much he cares about even the smallest of details of my life and yours.  

If only I can remember not to try to limit God to whatever box my little mind can concoct, when he is so much bigger, more powerful, more amazing and more caring than I can even begin to imagine.  

If there is snow outside your house right now, I encourage you to take a minute to look out at the beauty, at the artistry, at the amazing power of something as simple as frozen water, and then realize it is a demonstration of the God who can get YOU through anything life .brings, and will do so in amazing ways if you just let him be not only the king of the world, but the king of YOUR world, too!

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