If memory serves, January of 2014 recorded some of the deepest snowfalls on record here in Indiana. The snow must have been deep, as I’m still digging out one of my cars and I haven’t seen my wife since she made that emergency run to Kroger for bread and milk.
Funny thing about Midwest weather – there’s not much about it in the Bible. Yes, one can find mention of “hordes of locusts,” “the cedars of Lebanon,” and “streams in the desert” – but scarcely a word about ice, sleet or tundra. There are a few warnings about hail – wait, make that Hell – but not much about sliding in it. And there are scant references to snow.
In fact, according to my concordance, there are only twenty-five references to snow in the King James Bible – which was the official version used by Moses and his meteorologist – and that’s good enough for me. However, all of these references to snow are in the Hebrew, and the majority of these are metaphors, such as “his hand became white as snow” or “our sins shall be as white as snow.” Obviously, whoever wrote these never had a winter walk in a Hoosier forest.
Most of these references to snow are found in the Psalms – but none pertain to winter. And old Job had some interesting observations about snow, but these were based on suffering and anguish and cursing God – which is about as close as we get to winter in Indiana. Still, the snow has to fall somewhere, and it might as well be here.
Or, perhaps we could take a lesson from Jesus. He once said that the “rain falls upon the just as well as the unjust” – meaning that God’s blessings are ubiquitous and impartial. And that applies to snow, too, I think.
I know some people who enjoy snow and sub-zero temps. (I’m not one of them, but I do enjoy calling the TV stations to cancel church services.) I must admit, however, that winter has its beauty, and after a fresh snowfall I can stand on the east side of my house and look out upon a beautiful landscape along White Lick Creek and admire it. I do this for five minutes over coffee, and then I hand a shovel to my son, and like Pharaoh, command him to shovel the driveway – all 120 yards of it.
Of course, you and I can read the Bible many ways: for inspiration, guidance, comfort, challenge, even instruction. But we cannot overlook the fact that the scriptures speak from a Mideastern landscape, not a Midwestern one. There’s more of sand and stone in the Bible than sleet and snow; there is more scorching heat than polar vortex; but there are also universal promises. These include God’s presence in the midst of hardship, grace in the midst of adversity, and a warm fire of the Spirit in the heart.
I think these would apply to winter, too. Even in Indiana.
Todd Outcalt serves at Brownsburg Calvary and is the author of thirty books in six languages – including The Other Jesus, Husband’s Guide to Breast Cancer, and Where in the World We Meet (poetry). He also contributes regularly to YouthWorker, Preaching, and Midwest Outdoors magazines. His next book, A Common Ground, is forthcoming in May.