January 2, 2013

Accepting winter

Our temperature hovers around the freezing mark this week (0 C or 32 F). but was close to -30 C during Christmas. Since I don’t have to work or be outside, it is easier for me to accept winter than those who battle it every day. I justify the extreme cold with, “At least it kills the bugs” meaning we don’t have the pests that inhabit warmer climes.
Today’s devotional is about the value of winter. Besides looking for good things about this cold weather, I’m reminded that a godly person is a grateful person. That means expressing gratitude to God about all that He provides, including winter.

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:16–17)

Most people would rather have summer all the time. We lived two years in southern California where seasons are blurry and not as extreme as in Canada. As appealing as that seems, California weather is a bit boring, even taken for granted by those who live there.

The devotional writer uses Scotland as another example. He says it is not those who live in Scotland who most deeply appreciate its beauty. Instead, it is the exile or those with Scottish blood in their veins that yearn for the mountains and glens. I am one of those who longs for the next trip to the land where I “belong.”

The same is true regarding good health; it is not the hale and hearty that most appreciate it, but those who have been ill. Riches are more deeply enjoyed by those who have experienced poverty. This is one major value of winter; it makes us appreciate summer.

As I read the devotional thoughts about how winter deepens our resolve and how it intensifies thoughts of home, I am thinking of another winter, the declining stages of life when hair grows the color of frost and bones begin to ache whenever the barometer drops. The winter of life is upon me. This season makes me long for the return of summer, but in life’s winter, this will not happen. Instead, I must accept aging and appreciate its value.

Just as I need an extra measure of resolution to get up on a cold and dark day in winter, I also need it as life becomes slower and more difficult. Winter involves doing things that need to be done when I feel more like loafing, taking a nap and lazing about. However, God urges me to finish well, even though the challenges to stop running the race increase with age. Winter means growing older with less energy to run life’s race with passion.

Yet in the winter of life, my heart is becoming more able to feel compassion for others. I feel deeper pity for those whose winter came earlier than expected, or whose season of life is marred by storms and dark days. Those who have run through that calendar of life know what struggle is all about. I’m finding myself more able to commiserate and empathize with fellow travelers.

Another value of winter is that it makes me want to be at home. My thoughts of home are not just our present address, but that sweet and rich rest where the Lord has gone ahead to prepare me a place. That eternal home calls to me with warm lights and a glowing welcome. There temperature will not be an issue and all my struggles will be over. Winter makes me long for the fulfillment of all His great promises.

Yes, this part of my world has its bitter cold with icy streets and luring temptations to curl up and quit, but God reminds me of the good that winter does. He made winter. I can be thankful for its reminders of His goodness, and also thankful that it does not last forever.

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