When you need new vision

—–November

I need a new vision for winter.

You asked Your prophets time and time again, “What do you see?”

When I look at the world turning to winter, I see death.

The days get shorter and shorter and it feels like grace runs a bit thin, too. Over the years water has spoken to me of Your grace; but water freezes in winter. Everything gets crusted under frost and ice. I remember the winter of 2012. Every week I walked to the lake. There I would stand, mesmerized, watching the lake toss huge chunks of ice like a beast trying to free itself from its chains.

In winter I can go all day without seeing the sun. Do you know that? Even if it’s out, I’m so bundled up only the tip of my nose gets a few rays. It is a kind of daily death to live without the sun. All of us, scurrying around, wrapped in so many layers of protection against the weather. But the sun and clouds and sky – how have I learned to love you apart from those?

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Winter is months of having socks on inside and boots on outside; months of wrapping my necks in scarves and ensconcing my head in toques; winter is “baby, it’s cold outside” playing on the radio; winter is the excuse not to leave a warm blanket, a warm house, a warm car.

I began this year leaving snowy Chicago to return to my childhood home – right by the Equator. There was so much sunshine.

I came back and realized something: smiling in Canada requires conscious effort. Where has the joy gone, Father? Why does winter have to come? And why does it have to be for so long?

Winter feels like prison. Makes me stir-crazy. Everything is confined because it must. Parts of you can die in winter, you know? Frostbite finds fingers and toes, and they turn white and bloodless.

Cold hurts.

Do I have to face months without sunshine or rain, months of struggling for joy? It makes me feel so very far away from home. But then, Canada is home too. I feel disloyal for disliking the season that stamps our country’s identity to most non-Canadians. {Because we all live in igloos and fish through ice and have pet moose} But I don’t like it.

Father, will you give me hope for this winter?

You asked what I see. I have told you. Will you give me new vision?

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping Thy presence my light.

Rutherford said that pride rots in winter. Maybe if I can’t see the growth of new life, at least I’ll witness the death of some of this abominable pride that’s in my heart. Maybe I’ll die a bit too this year, but in good ways.

The Lord is a sun and a shield.

Did David know about winter?

You’ve taught me to see your face in the sky and to read your mercy in the sun and your grace in the rain. Now that those things are being taken away from me, will you teach me the deeper joy of finding you in your Word? You say your Word is light, and it is rain causing things to grow. Your Word is fire. So I guess my soul could have a rainy season when my body is in winter. It’s just so hard to see. Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

For years, this has been my vow: you are the Lord of my heart. Not as I would, but as you will. (Lord, teach us to pray!) You know that I’m scared silly? You are the Lord of my heart; be Thou my vision.

Like you asked your prophets of old, you ask me: “What do you see?”

I have told you what I see. But I know what I want to see, by grace.

With David, I cry:

“When you said, ‘Seek my face,’ my heart said to you, ‘your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’ Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant way in anger; you have been my help. Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!” (Ps. 27)

Your face I shall seek. Still, my soul. Selah.

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 — February

I thought February would mark the end of winter; turns out it just begins again! Today I got a thunderful thigh workout struggling along unplowed sidewalks to get to work. I saw some cars stuck on the snow in driveways or streets, spinning their wheels. I got to work with jeans soaked through.

Winter isn’t over. I am still asking to see Your face. Today, as I walked to work I saw wind lift powdered snow off railway tracks into a dance up to a dark, brooding morning sky.

I’ve seen the beauty of snow in a new way. How it makes people stop. We’re always rushing places, you know. But when the snow falls heavy, you have to slow down. Snow tires you out. It stops you. And it stills you. It is like a muffler over our busy, noisy town.

Sometimes, it is nice just to be still on a path thick with snow, seeing it caught on pine branches all around like snagged cotton.

Sometimes, it is nice just to stop.

—-Today

February is a fickle month. Double-faced, lion and lamb, he bellowed in to freeze but today he has mellowed. For the first time in months my elbows have seen the sun. I went barefoot yesterday, and sleeveless.

I waited to post this, wanting to have a positive ending for you all. I guess this is it. Winter is going to lose this battle. The sun is coming back. But until it does? Winter is a place that forces you to find new vision. And for that I am grateful.

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waiting for summer
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