January 26, 2017

After the Storm by Marnie Pohlmann

Soft flakes of snow bring joy, for there is fun to be had in mountain playgrounds. Children cheer as they bundle into snowsuits to build forts and taste winter on their tongues. Diamonds glisten in the yard, and hoar frost dresses the trees in fuzzy coats. The brisk air colors cheeks red while the sun shines in a blue sky to bring a few hours of delightful daylight into a Christmas card landscape.

Yet sometimes, icy snow blows against the windows and gathers in deep drifts against doors. This is the brutal blizzard that makes driveways indiscernible from the yard. Deep grooves through the snow over icy roadways guide the vehicles of those who must go out. Most of us choose to sit inside a warm home and wait for the storm to wane.

In a small mountain town where my family began, the average winter snowfall was 13 feet for the season from October to March.  Temperatures could dip below -40C for days at a time. One year we had 16 feet of snow on the flat, with great walls looming along roadways and driveways. The last year we lived there, there was only 4 hours of recorded sunlight for a whole month because most days the clouds, whether coming or going, dropped a new heavy blanket over the town.

Many may wonder why we would choose to live in a place that gets such weather. Many escape to tropical locations to avoid the winter. While there are days I would love to be lying on the beach rather than putting on an extra pair of socks, I must say winter helps me appreciate life.

I like living in places that have four distinct seasons. When life is Winter dark, I know Spring light will eventually lengthen the days and bring new growth. When I am in the Summer heat too long, the Autumn colours will soon explode, leading into times of more rest and winter reflection. Even though I often reside where winter is longer than the spring, summer, and autumn, experiencing each season helps me put life in perspective.

For example, weathering this year's winter of struggles, I am reminded of Elijah's story in 1 Kings 19.

When Elijah became depressed, feeling tired, fearful, and alone, he went to a cave where he waited out a storm, an earthquake, and a fire. Finally, the weather changed and a warm breeze blew. That is when Elijah heard the voice of God giving him direction for the next step in his journey.

We are not told how Elijah spent his time while waiting in the cave. Perhaps he complained and wallowed in his muddy misery. Or perhaps he made a list of blessings, kept a thankfulness journal, sang happy songs, or even read some Scripture, because these activities provide positive changes in thinking and attitude. Or maybe he just waited, resting and trusting that God would redeem his dark time.

The exercise of positive thinking, encouraged by list-making, writing, and music, is a way to stop us from dwelling on the darkness, helps us look toward the future, and changes negative self-talk into positive self-image. The Bible teaches us to renew our mind, and these ways to positive thinking help do just that.

I confess this year I have not been good at practicing the positive thinking lifestyle. It's not that I am ungrateful or lack faith, but life's storms and stresses have made me cold. I have no energy to change my tired, fearful, lonely feelings into positive messages that will lead to thinking about the storms as a wonderful time. They have not been wonderful or joyful. So, like Elijah, I will wait for the storm to pass. I have not lost faith in God. I recognize the "power" in the "power of positive thinking" is not me. Only God has the power to change me from the inside out in a way that is sustainable even in a raging storm.

It does no good to shovel the driveway while the snow is still falling heavily or drifting with a strong wind that hurts my face. It is better just to huddle in a warm place. There is nothing I can do about the storm.  I cannot change the weather or some circumstances of life. I know the One who can, though, so I will wait through the storms, earthquakes, and fires in life for a calmer time; a time when I can hear God's voice.

Then the work begins. The shoveling through drifts and doubts so I can hear God's direction for the next step in my journey. God will redeem the frost-bite pain of hard, dark times. They will become diamonds in my life landscape, places for laughter and building. God has faithfully taken me through storms before, so I know He will again.

Are you hibernating in a winter season of your life? Please know it is not wrong to be suffering. Pain and injury can be healed. Be kind to yourself. Be patient. The storms will calm, and God will continue to direct your path.

*Photos of word cloud courtesy of Pixabay.com
Photos of tree, shovel by Marnie Pohlmann

Marnie writes from a winter land. Follow her life and learning at Phosphorescent.

12 comments:

  1. I love the way you are able to weave together words that have such impact and deep meaning while also painting such vivid pictures. Someday i hope you will consider compiling these wonderful articles in some sort of collection... :)

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  2. I agree with Tracy. Thank you for this, Marnie.

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    1. Thanks for your support, Joy. I'm sure Spring will come and joy will return. God is good like that :)

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  3. Thank you for this message, Marnie. God bless.

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    1. It is the prayers of the vast community of believers that helps us through the winter so the message of God's blessings can be told. I appreciate your (and others') prayers for us.

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  4. I love the story of Elijah running and then hiding in fear in the cave. It is reassuring to know that although God may not seem to be in the windstorm, the earthquake, or the fire, he is close by and he will come and whisper gently to us when the disasters subside and we can hear his voice. This backs up your blog, "After the Storm." Thank you.

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    1. Yes, even though we may not see God in the darkness, He IS present, and His presence makes all the difference!

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  5. This is such a beautifully written and expressive piece, Marnie. Thanks for your honesty. I just finished reading Mark Batterson's book, "All In," and in it he says "no test = no testimony." When this period of suffering ends, you will have such a story to share of God's faithfulness to you through the storm. And it will be helpful to those who are going through their own times of trial and struggle. In a way, God will redeem your suffering.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. Yes, tests (which are not pass or fail) are redeemed by God to become testimonies, which are meant for sharing. May we be faithful witnesses and give glory to God.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your story in such a beautiful way. I particularly found this sentence meaningful: "Only God has the power to change me from the inside out in a way that is sustainable even in a raging storm." Thanks for your focus on God.

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    1. Focusing on God is the only way I find true joy in life (and, for me, joy in writing, which I'll share about in February's IWO blog.)

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