Today will hopefully be the first snow of the season. The clouds are grey with anticipation. The air smells of moisture and chill. The dry and dying ground is begging to be covered over with sparkling white diamonds.
Me; I’m inside promising myself that I will deal with the gigantic pile of laundry I’ve been avoiding all week. I am sick after all; and that’s always been my cue to slow down. I start doing too much, I’m wishing for a break, then either me or my kiddos gets sick and it’s like God’s gift to me. “Clear your schedule” he says. “Slow down and rest; you are doing too much.”
Of course then as soon as I am well I start right back in with all the insanity and the cycle repeats itself. But hopefully some day, I’ll learn that balance and we’ll all be a bit healthier for it. Or not. As God wills.
That first snow for me has always been the day I started listening to Christmas music. Not after Halloween; not after thanksgiving; but on that first day of snow. And today, that anticipation of snow, feels like the advent. Feels like the waiting, all of nature holding its breath for the birth of the savior; for the miraculous child to cover us with sparkling white; to cover over all our death and dying with his glory and his grace. The beauty of his covering eventually bringing about in us the most glorious spring of new life.
It’s that whisper of hope in Isaiah 11:1-10
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.’’
Christmas is a two fold sort of hope. The old hope for a savior fulfilled; Jesus, God incarnate, born to a heavy and holy calling— to save us from our sins and restore us to right relationship with God through his life, death and resurrection. And the new hope for God’s Kingdom to come to earth upon Jesus’ return. Our sins not only covered, but us washed, ourselves white as the snow. The very presence of sin gone from us. The stench of death completely removed from our nostrils. They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.
A glorious King came. It’s a glorious King whose return we await with great anticipation. A King who does not judge by what his eyes see, but judges us rightly. Imagine it: standing before the Savior, to know that your every fault is clear to him, and yet to know that he died that he might clothe you in his grace. Because of his great love for you.
I imagine this quote by Timothy Keller will make more sense to me on that day, when perhaps I can finally get the furious love God has for me through my head and into the deepest places of my heart.
“I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe. I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope.” -Timothy Keller
We live in the Already and the Not yet. Christmas is a celebration of all that God has done, just as it is also an anticipation for all that he will do. We do not belong to a God who only worked in the past. We belong to a God who knows and holds the future. And he will work all things for the good of those who love him, and for his own wondrous glory.
Come Lord Jesus. We are waiting.