"Warm Encouragement from Winter Freeze"
As I am getting older and succumbing to bodily decline, I am continually encouraged by my New Life in Christ which is like those daisies whose seeds are planted in autumn but produce beautiful flowers in the spring. They too experience winter.
Throughout my life I have lived in the Northeast region of America which is subject to very cold, often snowy and icy winters. So many times, after a winter storm, I would survey the aftermath to be enthralled by the profound beauty amid the inhospitality of suffocating ice covering road, woods, houses, and everything in sight.
As a redeemed sinner made alive to God in Christ, I have been given new eyes, so to speak, through the understanding gifted me by the Holy Spirit and focused to perceive reality aright through the lens of Scriptures.
“He gives snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before His cold? He sends out His Word and melts them; He has His Spirit move and the waters flow.” (Psalm 147:16-18)
Both freeze and thaw are in the Sovereign control of the Lord God Who is perfect in all His ways. Garden activity seems to cease beneath the veil of frigid snow; but, there are profound mechanisms of life and beauty that cannot always be seen by the mortal eye. Plant stems go dormant in the autumn, not to awaken until spring, but deep roots grow even deeper under snow even in the dead of winter! This is God’s profound and gracious design.
An ill-seed from the Tempter was welcomed by our first-parents in Eden’s garden. The wretched fruit produced was a perverted picture of God’s Character in which Adam and Eve and all their descendants universally sowed to death and woefully delighted in its produce which fostered human pride thereby putrefying all blessings.
Yet, a Tender Shoot came into the lethal jungle that morphed from the blighted Garden. Jesus was the Promised Seed in His humanity that would not merely undo what the First and so frail Adam brought about; moreover, Jesus the Last Adam and Lasting Son of God will bring all those ingrafted to Him into a place of consummate life, love, and liberty for all those vitally united to Him by the all-effectual grace of His Life, Death, and Resurrection.
God did not send an audible Word alone to redeem us. God sent the Word Incarnate to tangibly be our Substitute to plant us anew in familial relation to Father God. Jesus as the Word of God was the Will and Wonder of God lived out in time and space to produce a harvest of glory reflecting God All-Glorious, rather than rebellious weed destined for unquenchable flame.
Yet, we must remember now in winter, that a branch cannot but replicate the inherent life of the root. If healthy, peach trees produce peaches. So, how are we to interpret temptation, sorrow, oppression, injustice, pain, even physical death in our ingrafted-ness to Christ? Is it not part of the growing process for a branch to produce all the fruit expected if rooted to the tree?
In the truest, purest, best sense Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life for the redeemed of the Lord. And, through Him the winter age in which we currently live must be understood not simply logically but theologically. In God’s perfect design, His regenerated offspring must endure winter’s effect. But, through God’s means of grace in Christ, there is an inexorably unstoppable life conforming us to Jesus Christ, occurring beneath the ice, snow, harshness of this fallen age.
Jesus tells us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
We are not exempt from temporal troubles no less than a prize rose, not a silk or plastic counterfeit, can live forever in a fallen world. But there is One Whose true beauty, the beauty of holiness, eclipses the rose of Sharon and all other earthly delights. If truly grafted to Jesus, the Spirit has planted the seed of New Birth sown in the soil of a new heart plowed and harrowed by the Cross of Christ.
And, any fallowness must not be mistaken as idleness on God’s part or necessarily lack of trust in Him; but rather, Sovereign Grace producing exact conformance to Christ in us for us to become a perfectly delicious fruit to be savored by God in the Garden of Gardens for all eternity.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39) Amen.