Drifting Snow and the Gospel: Ephesians 1:7-9
Believe it or not, there was a driveway here just hours before this photograph was taken. Falling snow had stopped the day before, but the blowing wind moved it across yards and fields filling in the drive.
The first time I got my car stuck in a road, it was because of drifting snow.
It was dark out. Snow may or may not have been falling, but it doesn’t dump buckets all at once. I knew that paved roads would be plowed by that time of day and although I don’t live on a paved road, I could have stayed on better cared for roads a bit longer. Instead, I chose our rural, dirt road early because I figured that my car was able to go through the few inches of snow that might have been on the road (rural roads are the last to be plowed). What I did not anticipate was that the few inches had become much deeper, even a foot or more due to the wind blowing across the empty, crop-less fields. My car was moving one moment and completely stopped the next. What happened?
That day I drove down the road near a farm, which has a barn and tree line near the road. Then I drove past that windbreak. The road conditions were different! The empty fields of winter, the loose snow, the freezing temperatures, and the blowing wind combined made the right side of the road impassible. I did not see the drift and was stuck instantly. No amount of rocking the car back and forth, nor shoveling would budge it. My car stayed in the snow overnight. The next day my cousin borrowed a tractor and pulled out my car and at least four others who had similar experiences.
The more I think back to that winter, I wonder if there are some deeper truths than I’ve noticed before. What can I learn from this? Here are some thoughts I’d like to share about winter weather and daily life
Drifting is dangerous.
We can anticipate the need to be ready for snowfall. Schools cancel because of such predictions. It may take time and seem harmless in the moment, but drifting is dangerous.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV)
Spiritually we know to be ready for attacks of the enemy of our souls. Most won’t go from faithfully walking with God to denying Him overnight. It is in the small things that we drift away. A new idea that is only a little off from the truth is easily ignored, we let down our guard, and soon small flakes have accumulated. We might have been ready for them, we think, had they come a different way. Expected snowfall and drifting snow can both cause problems and be dangerous, but the first (snowfall) we seem to prepare for more (rarely do I hear any news reports about winds and drifting snow creating hazardous road conditions). The second is like a deceptive whisper. We must know our Shepherd’s voice!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7 ESV).
There is One who can save us. Only His blood brings redemption, the forgiveness we so desperately need! When we start to add to that other things, even seemingly minuscule things, we are yielding to a dangerous drift. When we stop valuing the riches of His grace, considering our sins and trespasses small, we are allowing the lies of an enemy to penetrate our thoughts.
The schemes of the devil are real. The God who sought us out, gave His Son, and placed within us His Holy Spirit as a seal, is greater! I John 4:4 assures us, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4 has brought me much comfort over the years. In that section (I John 4:1-6) we are told to not believe every spirit but to test them to see if they are from God. What is the test? “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” (I John 4:2-3 ESV) Oh Lord, keep us in Your word and fixed on the Gospel.
The Gospel Guards
We are sinners (doers and thinkers of wrong in our very being) separated from God who is holy (perfect, set apart). What we earned for our sin is death, eternal separation from God. Yet, God loved us (John 3:16) while we were still in our sin and fully separated from Him – enemies of our own Creator – and sent His holy Son, Christ Jesus, to buy us back. Jesus is holy. He is God in flesh (fully God and fully man) and though He lived on earth, He never sinned against God. He became the payment for our sin, dying on the cross voluntarily. Three days after His death, He rose from the grave! This is the Gospel. We, sinners separated from God, have been lovingly offered forgiveness by the very One we sinned against.
If we drift from the Gospel, the grace of God, thinking we can earn salvation or that we don’t need it – we are in a dangerous place.
If we drift from the Gospel, did we ever believe it?
If we drift from teaching the Gospel and living the Gospel, how are we representing Christ on this earth?
“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:13-15 ESV) This is compelling!
Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us of the Whole Armor of God. If we intend to stand as God has called us to, we must put all of it on. He knows we are dust, easily blown to and fro, and He enables us to stand in the midst of trials.
What seems beautiful may be dangerous.
Yes, snow is a beautiful thing! The patterns formed in drifting snow are lovely and intricate. Yet, a drift can be feet deep and immovable for a time. The freezing temperatures involved in snow are deadly. We must be equipped from them.
True beauty is found in God Himself. His beauty is lasting. His character is unchanging.
Snow melts. God remains.
Misplaced Confidence Creates Problems
The night I found myself stuck in the snow, I had confidence in my ability and my car. I should have been more aware of conditions and factors outside myself, such as wind. My misplaced confidence propelled me down a road I was not equipped for! I stopped. Focusing on me, being confident in how I could handle what I expected, led to trouble. I didn’t know the truth about the road I was on. It was dark and I was unaware. My choice to not think about the wind, its direction, and the open fields led to others having to pull me out. Misplaced confidence is wrong.
When I am going the way I want to go, rather than making sure spiritually that this is God’s plan for me, I am headed for trouble. God doesn’t leave His children in the dark! He has given us His word, it is a lamp for us. We may not see with our eyes, but our confidence is in Him! He is good. Left to ourselves, we are not. He is able. We are fully dependent on Him for our next breath. When I really process my need of Him for air to breathe, lungs to function, heart to beat, then how can I imagine that my family, my career, or anything else I care about can exist without Him or be dependent on me?
In Daniel 3 we hear the testimony and confidence of three men faced with a choice: death by fire or turning away from God. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” (Daniel 3:16-18 ESV) They were exactly where God allowed them to be, and trusted that He could deliver them and would choose to trust Him even if He did not deliver them from their fiery circumstances. Their confidence was in God, not their abilities nor their high position. Their rightly placed confidence brought glory to God!
Rightly Placed Confidence Brings God Glory
God gives His children gifts to use for His glory and purpose (I Corinthians 12:4-11). We can be confident that He has done this because it is in His word. When I start to imagine that some skill I have is mine, I am in the dark. My confidence must be in God. I am to be confident that His grace is sufficient for me, that His power is made perfect in my weaknesses! If there is any boast I have to make, it is Christ alone!
Power Beyond Us is Needed
When stuck in the snow, there was nothing I could do to change the situation. I think we all know that feeling of being trapped and there being nothing we can do about it. My cousin was able to borrow a tractor and pull my car out of the snow the next morning. The traction on the huge wheels and the horsepower in the machine made a massive difference in the situation. When we are really trapped, power beyond us is needed.
My car and snow drift example is filled with my mistakes, but sometimes we find ourselves in difficult circumstances that are impossible and not of our own making. I Peter 2:20-21 tells us of this.
God sees our situation and He is able to help us. We need to trust that! We can call on Him. He is close to the broken hearted.
For the Believer, Suffering Will End Someday
The deep snow can be overcome through powers like tractors or by the warmth of season change.
Looking at Lot, who is called righteous here in II Peter, we read, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” II Peter 2:9. Our righteousness is no different, it is dependent on Christ.
Ephesians 1:19-20 clearly states, “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”
God’s power is great! Paul speaks of “the immeasurable greatness of his power” and that is mind blowing, then the word continues “toward us who believe…” That is overwhelming! This power that is immeasurably great is working toward us. Christ is raised from the dead! Now He is seated by God at His right hand!
Ephesians 1:8-10 continues the thought of the riches of God’s grace, “which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
God’s love is a mystery, beautiful and overwhelming. We find ourselves trapped by our own sin. The Only Begotten Son of the Father, chose to give His own life for us, for me. He lives and now I live. May we never drift from the truth of the immeasurable grace God gives!
Dear Lord, please keep me from drifting from Your truth and from You. I am fully reliant on You! Only Your grace saves. Thank you for your grace that is lavished upon us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When have you seen God show up in your trials, whether self-inflicted or otherwise?
How has that testimony brought glory to God?