Dawn broke cold last Sunday morning, but I looked forward to the warmth of worship as I drove the four short blocks to church. A couple of hours later, when I walked back outside, the entire landscape had changed! While I sang inside, the moisture in the air and the frigid temperatures outside worked together to coat every single tiny branch with a layer of white ice. I felt like I had walked into a stunningly beautiful winter wonderland.
Each morning for the next four days, I awoke to more ice on the trees. The temperature stayed well below freezing, the sun refused to break through the clouds, and the forecast offered no hope of a break in the temperature for another week. The beauty of the ice began to look frightening and bring worry to my heart.
My backyard has two magnificent 70-foot trees. Each day, as more ice accumulated, the branches above my house hung lower and lower with the weight of the ice. What used to look so marvelously beautiful now threatened to break huge limbs out of these trees. I didn’t want to think about the damage it might cause to my house.
I began to pray, asking God to protect my home, and the home of my neighbor.
God heard my prayer.
Thursday morning, I awoke and meandered out to the living room. To my astonishment, sunlight streamed in my windows, spilling across the floor and onto my favorite chair. In grateful relief, I sat in the sunshine and soaked up its warmth. I have to admit that each day without the sun had become more and more difficult for me. It’s a good thing I live in the Midwest because I couldn’t live in climates with lots of cloudy rainy weather. My motivation and emotional well being suffer without the sun.
I watched all day long, expecting the ice to fall in chunks from the trees. Even though the temperature stayed well below freezing, I still thought the ice would melt with the power of the sun.
It did not. I went to bed disappointed.
The next morning, I walked into the living room and peered out the window. Astonished, I stared at the brown branches of the trees. Where did the ice go? No signs of it lay in the yard. Instead, a new light snow covered the evidence. During the night, while I rested, God restored the world. He had been working all day long, I just couldn’t see the effects until morning.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because I couldn’t help but draw parallels to God’s interaction in my life. I desperately need the power of His love to shine in my life. Without it, I grow cold and icy. Oh yes, life might look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, the weight of the enticing beauty of sin threatens to break me in two, wreaking destruction in the process.
But when God’s precious love breaks through, and I gaze into it, it melts me from the inside out. It doesn’t show for a while, but all of the sudden, people notice the difference. They might criticize that I’m just a brown, leafless tree at first, without the thrill of the icy exterior – but don’t worry, come spring everyone will be able to see the effects of a well-watered life, planted in the Son.
Another storm begins tonight, but thanks to God’s sunshine, my trees are ready.
How about you? Will you let the love of God’s Son melt away the ice in you before the next storm comes?
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39