“…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Fresh snow--beautiful, soft, white--the earth pulls it up like a downy blanket under its chin. It covers rocks, stones, jagged edges, imperfections in the landscape, and evens it out to where the terrain stretches out in a silken sweep, like the sleeve of a lovely dress. It quiets the land. As snow falls, all noise is enveloped, and for a moment, I marvel at the all-pervading sense of peace. Somehow, in the midst of snowfall, it does seem that peace on earth and good will to men has fallen from the heavens as well.
This is snow--at first. Then, over time, it changes: it becomes sharp, crusty, icy, not at all pleasant. Mud and dirt discolor it, and leaves stick to it. It holds on to the soil like a cat’s dirty paws, and loses all softness. Rocks reappear out of it, and it hides in the cracks and crevices of the terrain, lingering in the shadows, and disappearing under a warming sun, so now the hillsides are a jumble of snow and soil, white and brown.
What made the change from pristine white softness to dirty gray iciness? Temperature: pure and simple. As the sun warms the snow, it melts, and yet the winter warmth doesn’t allow it to escape quickly into the atmosphere. The temperature soon drops in the shortness of the day, and the melted snow turns to ice. Now the surface, once powdery, is hard and uninviting to walk across. It’s quite scary navigating across an icy driveway or walkway, without my feet sinking securely into the snow--the icy snow now will not yield, and although it still maintains a white gleam in the afternoon sun, it is not inviting to explore.
How so like the Christian walk. The first fallen snow of joy in the Lord, the saving touch of His hand, the repentant soul home at last: all soft, white, and full of quiet promise. The terrain of the past is gently and utterly covered: no more can sinful stones and rocks be seen, and the outstretched sweep of forgiveness makes the land look young and even.
But, that changes over time: the temperature of a fallen world with its warm sun that melts our resolve and slowly encrusts our hearts with an icy coat. The mud and dirt of sin infiltrates the whiteness, and leaves sharp stones and particles of hurt and guilt on what was once white and pure in His sight. What was once a pleasurable walk where our feet securely allowed us to walk in Him is now is treacherous, with us slipping and falling onto a hard unyielding surface of regret, hurting our hearts and shattering our hopes.
What restores the loveliness of the hillsides? What brings back the even softness, with the rocks and stones receding from view? What covers the dirt again with beautiful white, and quiets again the land with peace? Fresh snow! Fresh clean snow once again falling from Heaven. The earth taints what is good--Heaven restores it.
In my mountain home, there is never just one snowfall. In my heavenly home--my heart--there is never just a one time forgiveness of sin. David in his Psalm knew a cleansed soul has a special kind of purity--snow-like, freshly fallen from Heaven, knowing that the sun will come, but equally confident in what falls from His healing hand.
My life has felt Your cleansing touch--it has equally felt the dirt of sin. Help me, precious Lord, not to focus on the receding snow-- the melting and tainting of my spirit--but help me to ask again and again for fresh sweet snow, given from Heaven to a heart that sincerely desires it. Then may I wander over the terrain of Your will for my life, firm as I walk, confident as I hold the nail-scarred hand of my Savior. In Your peace-bringing Name, amen.