You’ve heard the words often. Bing Crosby immortalized them, and you’ve probably even sung them sometime this winter holiday season – “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know!” And yet, even as you sang them, even though it probably was in the privacy of your own shower stall, you somehow longed for that dream to become reality.
One of the most treasured memories we have is of a snowy Christmas Eve, where the crunch of new-fallen snow beneath our feet tells us, “This is Christmas – the way it ought to be.” And yet, the Christmas we just celebrated will go on record as being one of the warmest in our history. Who would believe that during the week of Dec. 25 in Ohio we would experience temperatures nearing the 70 degrees mark?
In past years we have decorated our front porch with a small sled that one member of our church years ago dubbed as our “snow icon.” She claimed it was a sign that signaled we were ready for the onslaught of that white stuff that seems to fall in the winter months, and which acts like a lightning rod to attract the snow in “feet.” In recent years, we have opted for a different “snow icon”. Rather than put a sled out on our front porch, the home decorator who lives in our home has decided that a “snowman icon” is a better choice. This wooden ornament about three feet high leans against the wall of our home right beside our front door. Now, I must say, that the weather over the past few years would not necessarily indicate that his snowman has been doing his job very well, but even as I write these words, the snow is falling and the day is progressing very nicely.
This morning, as the snow continues to fall – and accumulate, I might add – I find myself feeling very content and prepared for the issues which this snowfall will bring. A week or two ago when the first snowfall of the year came, I was not so prepared. I had just taken our snow blower in to be repaired and it was still in the shop. In the recent past, I have rarely had to shovel the snow in our driveway, but have been able to “blow” it off to the side with a minimal effort. In fact, having a snow blower at my disposal has made me feel somewhat guilty. It has prevented me from willingly employing the fellows who regularly come by the houses in the neighborhood asking if we would like for them to shovel our driveways. And, wouldn’t you know it? When the snow came a couple of weeks ago, not one fellow came by to ask if he could help in the shoveling.
But today I am ready. Just this past weekend I picked up my snow blower from the repair shop and it is ready to go. And if need be, I can also shovel the snow to the side.
You know, this reminds me of a spiritual principle that we often overlook. The Bible tells us that, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) If I understand that verse correctly, God is telling us that it is important for us to make plans and move toward fulfilling those plans, but in faith to allow the Lord the privilege of changing those plans as He desires and directs. With the help of my friend Jim, who repaired my snow blower for me, I planned for the inevitable onslaught of snow and feel very much prepared.
No matter what the situation is, whether it is planning for winter or life, God wants us to be prepared. But He not only wants us to “be prepared,” He also wants us to “be dependent” (upon Him) in everything we do, whether that be at work or at home, in worship or at play, trusting Him for the outcome as we seek to accomplish in His strength the plans that he has given us to do.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
I find it interesting that those verses encourage us to depend upon the Lord, and then proceed with confidence that He will direct us. Notice that we are told not to “depend upon (y)our own understanding.” That intrigues me, as it does not say not to use our own understanding. In other words, I believe God is directing us to do the research to discover all we can about how to proceed whenever we face difficulties or decisions which may seemingly stump us or put road blocks in our path. He will give us the wisdom to understand what we need to understand. But ultimately, the decision has to be to depend upon Him and His direction. In the snow situation, God says, “Get the snow blower running. Then you will be ready when the snow flies.”
My friends, the decisions and situations you face may be and probably are more difficult than dealing with the snow on your driveway. But the promise is the same. Turn the issue over to the Lord, and He will show you which path to take. Be ready for whatever life throws in your path, and the Lord will take care of you.
This year, my snow blower is repaired and ready to go, and I’m not just “dreaming of a White Christmas.” I’m also crooning “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” I am ready. Are you?
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette. He also serves as pastor of Port William UMC.