Three Takeaways from a Snowy Day
by Dale Reeves
It happened 43 years ago. January 25-27, the blizzard of 1978 hit the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region, paralyzing our town for three long days. Bitter cold temperatures, wind chill of 61 degrees below, howling winds, and over three feet of snow with drifts of 15-20 feet. I was a sophomore at Cincinnati Bible College. Everything was shut down. Food trucks couldn’t traverse the roads and bring food to the cafeteria. I remember eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cottage cheese for three days—and sledding down the massive hill to Glenway Ave. on a tiny cafeteria tray. Not the smartest decision I’ve ever made. But when we heard the words three days in a row, “SNOW DAY!” we were ecstatic!
Today’s younger generation hasn’t ever experienced a snowfall like that one in our area, but they got a nice gift the other day with between 6-9” of the white stuff on the ground—enough to give many students their first official SNOW DAY of this school year! It was a welcome day for so many people, as they were able to get outside and enjoy some sense of winter normalcy desperately needed in 2021. It was actually refreshing to me that the big news of the day was all about the weather rather than the coronavirus numbers, impeachment proceedings in Washington D.C., problems with getting enough vaccines to different parts of the country, or any other negative news that pervades our society every day.
A Theology of Play
No, this day was about God creating a day for kids (and adults) to be kids. After placing a little child in front of a crowd, Jesus told us in Matthew 18:3, 4, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (NLT). What traits was Jesus holding up as an example for us? I would suggest he was challenging us to accept his gift of salvation and an abundant life at surface level, with innocence, childhood belief, humility, and a sense of wonder.
Dr. David Naugle, philosophy professor at Dallas Baptist University, comments in his blog entitled, “A Serious Theology of Play”:
“Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once observed that Christians ‘have no joy.’ He also said, should he ever come to believe in God, he would only believe in a ‘God who danced.’ Sadly, he was never able to locate such a God.”
Naugle continues, “Play is an essential part of our divinely created humanity as the image of God and is therefore an intrinsic good. . . . Children are natural born players. . . . Perhaps the clearest support for a biblical theology of play comes from the Scriptural teaching on the topic of dance, as one of the purest forms of play. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for dance is also the Hebrew word for play. The wisdom of the writer in Ecclesiastes could not be clearer in his affirmation of this activity when he writes in chapter 3 that there is ‘a time to mourn, and a time to dance (or play).’ . . . If God is a God of play, and if human play is, indeed, rooted in divine play, then we, as humans, ought to develop our abilities at play and cultivate a spirit of playfulness. This is both our gift and our responsibility in an often-serious world.”
If you know me very well, then you know that I very strongly believe in a God who not only danced, but is still dancing today! And that is why it warmed my heart so much this week to see moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas sledding down hills, building snowmen, and making snow angels with their kids and grandkids—taking part in play. Our grandson Luke excitedly yelled yesterday as he and his brother ventured outside to travel down a snowy and icy slide, “Now, let’s get Mamaw!” He couldn’t wait to pelt her with some snowballs.
As we reflect on this wonderful day of play this week, there are at least three things I don’t want you to miss.
- The Beauty of God’s Intricate Creation
God gives us a glimpse of his incredible majesty in a beautiful snowfall like we experienced this week. Unless you live in Zermatt, Switzerland, at the base of the Matterhorn, you don’t get to observe this kind of winter wonderland all the time. It is impossible for us to comprehend how God chose to make each snowflake unique among the trillions he creates every year. Every ice crystal has a unique path to the ground as it floats through different clouds of different temperatures and different levels of moisture, allowing each crystal to grow in its own unique way. When asked if I believe in God or science, the answer is YES! He is the God of science, and his Word is filled with wonderful facts from nature.
Job 38:22, 23 asks us, “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?” (ESV). God has a reserve. He has storehouses of this stuff. We haven’t seen anything yet!
- The Image of God Through His Little Ones
On one occasion, as some parents brought their children to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them and pray for them, his disciples attempted to intervene and protect Jesus from what they perceived as a distraction to his ministry. Jesus turned their scolding back onto themselves when he said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14, NLT).
In a day like we experienced this week we have a chance to exclaim as Job did, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:5, NLT). If we are attentive, Jesus often shows himself to us through the eyes of a child. If we are too busy with our adulting, we will miss it.
- The Purity of a Fresh Snowfall
As the snow was falling Monday night as we went to bed, I loved looking out through the windows of our house and seeing the reflection of the moon on the brilliant white blanket that was glistening in our backyard. It actually overcame the darkness. My thoughts turned to the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:15, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (NLT).
Just as the pure white snow brings a fresh landscape for us to enjoy, God desires that our lives would put on display God’s beauty for all to see, driving out the negativity and darkness all around us. There’s just something about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on—a purity that should remind us of God, and a reminder about what Jesus has done in offering us redemption and a new start.
James Nicholson, an Irishman who immigrated to America at the age of twenty-five, penned these words, based on Psalm 51:7, in 1872:
“Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to ransom my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”