A New Snow, A Saving Grace*

*This was written last winter, but it still applies… I hope you enjoy it

While in the midst of cursing this winter that never seems to end, I was confronted in my mind with a particular insight as I watched the snow come down this morning. As snowfalls go, this has been one of my favorites. The giant drifting snowflakes gently coming down remind me of the manna falling from heaven to feed God’s own people. The flakes so large, look as if they’re of a greater, tangible substance and not just water that melts away in the warmth of your hands. There’s no wind blowing violently to turn it into an icy sheet and the weather is just warm enough for you to stand outside and enjoy it without having to rush back in. This is the kind of snow you want to see on Christmas Eve. It is “Postcard Perfect” in the way it falls and in the way it lies on ground before people go about the business of brushing it all aside.

This kind of snow does something else. It makes everything look clean. It gives everything around it an appearance of newness. Though not much for exploring the city these days, I can still recall many snow-covered moments when I worked in the busy world of Manhattan. The soft white flakes would quickly envelop the streets and drape over the ledges of all the old buildings like long white banners. With an impending evening snowfall, people would quickly make their way home and huddle in for the night. At that point, there are never enough people out and about  to truly ruffle what looks like perfect sheets of white that blanket the city. It covers the grime and the dirt of the city and while it is always a remarkable place to live, there is something different about a freshly snow-covered city.

We know the dirt is there and we know very soon the snow will be pushed away into mounds and the once crystal white snow with be stained gray and black as shovels scoop up the grimy underbelly and cars begin to lay muddy tracks over the perfectly white paths. Yes, soon enough, the city will be back to its true appearance, but for just a little while, it is such a sight to see.

As I contemplated this transformation from cold gray city, to snow-covered paradise and back to its grimier truth, I think… is this not me?

My Christ comes and loves me with his life, and with his cross, and calls me his own. He takes this dirty, filthy, wretched man and makes him new. He covers me with his righteousness and like the quiet late evening streets of Manhattan in a winter storm, I am made as white as snow by a life that he lived for me. I wear a spotless robe, while he takes my dirt and grime for himself. But it doesn’t stop there. Even though I am made clean like that fresh snow, this life of mine is a struggle against sin. Sometimes too often giving in to its call. So much so, that this righteousness that I’ve been given can look dirty on the outside. It can look a lot like turned up snow shoveled to the curb. It can make me look downright unrighteous.

It seems, like the snow now shoveled and melting away, that the filth underneath is revealed once again. But that’s where the analogy ends. It ends here because of Christ’s perfect righteousness. This righteousness that by faith is always mine and that has, once and for all, washed me clean. It is in this righteousness, which has been given to me, where my hope fully lies. Not the righteousness of what I appear to be. If you judge me based on my appearance, then let me make it clear to you, my “snow” will always be stained. It will always be mixed with the dirt and grime of my sinful nature, which at times I can beat back and at other times, I am admittedly overwhelmed. If my hope relied on what my righteousness looked like outwardly, I might as well be washed away with the city snow into the sewers, never to be seen again.

But Christ.

Christ is where my hope lies. His death is my rescue. His life IS my righteousness. Even on the days of my worst struggle, when both thoughts and action betray Him, I know I can rest in his forgiveness. I know His grace is sufficient and his very strength anchors my sometimes wavering faith. 

Because of Christ, because of all he has done, I am always covered white like snow. I wear his spotless robe and though my imperfect life appears to drag its ends through mud and dirt, it remains pristine. Because of this robe, I am seen that way as well. This is where my hope lies. In all of Christ’s work on my behalf. 

Amen.

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