Snow!

 

A big snow in Oconee County, South Carolina, is rare. The last time we had one was in 1988. Winter weather for this part of the Upstate comes up I-85 from Atlanta. Seneca, South Carolina, is ensconced at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, which act as a shield from snow. Wind currents from the mountains usually blow east and push snow away. This time, January 10, 2010, the weather front coming up from Atlanta stalled and drifted west. According to my ruler, we had 81⁄2 inches of snow in my backyard.

Before the snow fell, many of the trees in my yard were bare and the grass was winter brown. With two varieties of cherry trees, red and white dogwood trees, three kinds of oak trees, pine trees, pecan trees, sweet gum trees, a native maple, a ginkgo, a Bradford pear, a magnolia, a Chinese maple, a eucalyptus, and a Japanese snowball tree. Grass struggles to survive in my yard. A few barren spots are scattered about.

One of the most esthetically satisfying qualities of snow is that it temporarily covers the gaunt limbs of trees and the open spots of a yard in white beauty. Snow makes everything a white winter wonderland of beauty.

The snow began to fall about three on Monday morning. Like a 10-year-old boy, I was excited about the snow. I could not sleep. I got up, put on a pot of coffee and turned on the outside lights. The snow had just begun. I stayed up and watched it fall for over two hours. I watched as the barren spots were slowly covered with a carpet of stunning white. The gaunt limbs were dressed in dazzling garments of loveliness. The black of the driveway and street were blanketed with a brilliant topcoat as stunning as white fur.

I returned to the warmth of my bed and bride at about 5:30 AM, and the snow was still falling when I threw the covers back in the light of the morning. My world had been transformed by a blanket of white that hid the barren and ugly under its clean and pure beauty. That is the magic, the wonder, the power of snow!

The sound of snow in my neighborhood is the sounds of laughter. We have children in our neighborhood: eight boys and a very tough little girl, who played joyfully and briskly in the snow. They built snowmen. They builtsnow forts. They had snowball wars. They slid down hills and across the landscape. They laughed and hollered and squealed to their hearts’ content. Their smiles were the smiles of abandonment to joy and delight. How I would have liked to be a boy again to run and laugh and sport with them in the snow.

In the Bible, the word “snow” is used twice as a metaphor for the forgiveness of sins. The two passages are found in the Old Testament: (1) Psalm 51:7 – “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”; and (2) Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The impact of these two verses on Christian poets and hymn writers of the church has been profound. Let me share a little of what I found in a ten minute search of hymnals.

James L. Nicholson wrote:

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Elvina M. Hall wrote:

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Franklin E. Belden penned:

Look upon Jesus, sinless is He;
Father, impute His life unto me.
My life of scarlet, my sin and woe,
Cover with His life, whiter than snow.

Lewis E. Jones gave us these words:

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.
There’s wonderful power in the blood.

Finally, Ira D. Sankey lifts us with these comforting thoughts:

Behold a fountain deep and wide,
Behold its onward flow;
’Twas opened in the Savior’s side,
And cleanseth white as snow,
And cleanseth white as snow!

The hymnbooks of the church are replete with the use of “snow” as a metaphor for the washing and cleansing and renewing power of the purifying, sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.

Just as snow covers with beauty that which is barren and ugly in the landscape, the forgiveness of God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross covers the stains of our rebellious souls and the horrid sins in our lives and clothes them with the spotless righteousness of Jesus. No wonder the Psalmist and Isaiah saw snow as a metaphor for God’s forgiveness! No wonder the poets and singers of the church have delighted in using it to depict the beauty of forgiveness and salvation!

Well, if the sound of snow in my neighborhood is the laughter of delighted children, then the sound of forgiveness and salvation must be the laughter of forgiven and delighted souls that are set free from sin and its penalty. That marvelous reality leaves us like children laughing and hollering and squealing in delight. We slide down the hills of salvation and through the open fields of forgiveness on the purifying snow that covers all our sins. We sing and cheer and shout for “My sin – O the bliss of this glorious tho’t – My sin not in part, but the whole – Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

Yep, I like snow! These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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