Whiter Than Snow

For some of us at the farm, late winter is our least favorite time of year. Not that we don’t appreciate the down time, slower pace and ability to cross important things off the never-ending list, but the weather can be somewhat depressing.

Of course, it is too early to plant anything. On some days, it is so raw that it makes working on repairs in an unheated barn downright unpleasant.

And yes, when it rains, the fields and pastures, especially cattle-feeding areas, turn into a sea of mud. There is nothing that can be done to change that muddy, semi-thawed ground except endure and wait for the promise of spring.

It was in the midst of these circumstances the other day, when as darkness fell, the weather changed and it began to snow. As the sun rose the next morning, several inches of wet snow covered the landscape.

How great is our God! The sea of mud had been transformed into a beautiful unblemished carpet of snow. The bright sunshine made the snow so bright it was almost uncomfortable to look at for too long.

This called to mind the transfiguration story of Jesus. “Now after six days, Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mt 17:1-2).

The purity and brilliance of the snow was an everyday manifestation of who Jesus is, and who we are not. There are further biblical illustrations of such purity.

In Isaiah 1:18, the Lord provides a foreshadowing of Christ when he says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

In Psalm 51:7, David pleads with the Lord, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Yes, our God wants to create in us a new heart and a new spirit. And this is made possible through Christ, who is not only Immanuel, God with us, but also through our salvation, God in us.

Our Spiritual Mud

In the same way that our only choice in a sea of mud is to wait expectantly for the spring thaw, there is nothing we can do with our human strength to achieve God’s righteousness and lift ourselves out of a spiritual “sea of mud.”

As stated in the Westminster Confession, our whole nature is corrupt.

Psalm 14:2-3 reminds us of this reality: “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

The apostle Paul reminds us that our corruption is so systemic that even when we know what God requires, we cannot carry it out.

How familiar to our own experiences are these sage words of Paul found in Romans 7:15-24: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but do the very thing I hate. ... For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. ... So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin, that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Yes, who will rescue me from this “sea of mud”? Certainly not me! Significantly, Paul’s question is who will deliver me, not what will deliver me.

The deliverer is a person, and the person is Christ. God’s provision of snow that morning was a beautiful reminder of his power, provision and grace.

Oh, what a Savior we have in Jesus!

This blog was originally posted at Lancaster Farming.