My mother has always loved winter. I, on the other hand, seem to be appreciating winter less and less the older I get. She’d say you can always put on more to stay warm, but there’s only so much a person can take off in hot weather. That may be true, but that’s part of my issue with winter: having to get dressed up every time I go outside.
Mom was out to visit a couple of weeks ago from her home in Abbotsford and was so pleased that a blizzard hit while she was here. I can’t say I shared her enthusiasm but I have to confess that yesterday as I looked across to the West with the sun shining on the snowy mountains I was again made aware of the glory of God in creation. I may not be noticing that so much when I shovel later today, but for that moment I was led to a greater sense of God’s presence.
People often say they have a heightened awareness of God in those awe inspiring moments. It reminds me of the story of Elijah in 1Kings chapter 19 where, because of the death threats from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, he ran away into the wilderness to hide. He made his way to Mount Horeb where God came and spoke to him. There God told Elijah that he would pass by in front of Elijah.
We are told that a great wind blew by, so great that rocks were hurled and smashed to pieces, but God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake shook the entire mountain, but God was not in the earthquake. Then a fire raged in front of Elijah, but God was not in the fire. Finally there was just a soft, gentle whisper and at that Elijah covered his face in awe and reverence of the presence of God.
The lesson for me in this is that if I only look for God in those awe inspiring or ecstatic moments in life, whether they be on a mountain top or in a church service, I’m likely going to miss him. At best I will have a pretty shallow relationship with him. But when I listen for God and wait on him in the quiet, ordinary and yes, even mundane times that is where I really come to know him. That is where Jesus truly begins to live through me.
I guess I should listen while I shovel.
Over the years that I have been coaching bantam football I have developed a kind of an image or reputation for always wearing shorts when I’m coaching. Whether it’s raining or shining or snowing I always wear shorts. Really it’s just a goofy thing I do because it makes people laugh when I’m standing on the sidelines in a November blizzard wearing shorts, but maybe I can fool some people into thinking I must know what I’m doing because I look more athletic wearing shorts and a ball cap than I do in boots, jeans and a cowboy hat.
I had the privilege of helping with the high school team as they prepared for the first round of provincial play-offs. I jumped at the opportunity even though most of the senior players probably know more than I do, but I just love being around the team. I didn’t technically do any coaching, I was in the spotter’s booth hoping to see any tendencies from the other team that our guys could exploit, but since I was officially part of the coaching staff for that day I had to wear my shorts.
Unfortunately it was minus 12 with a stiff north wind and blowing snow. I don’t think I fooled anybody into thinking I looked like I knew what I was doing that day. In fact most people thought I’d lost my mind completely and just looked silly. I had my touque on over my ball cap with my hoodie pulled over that and then my big winter coat over everything else . . . and shorts. Nope, wasn’t fooling anybody with that image.
Most of us are concerned to a certain degree about our reputation, it’s always been part of our human nature. Even in the early church the people from Sardis were concerned about their reputation and apparently went to some effort to project an image of being very spiritual (Revelation 3). I imagine they had all sorts of programs and activities; they never went to bars, never used coarse language, and were always in church on Sunday morning. But Jesus’ scathing indictment was they had a reputation for being alive but were dead.
As Jesus followers we need to be real. We aren’t fooling God, and likely we’re not fooling most people either; we’re fatally flawed. By God’s grace through Jesus we are made righteous, and only in our weakness does God reveal his strength. So just be genuine.