Friday, January 8, 2010

A Life of Possibilities

Winter has been in session for a few weeks, but January always seems to be the defacto start. Usually January brings post-Christmas blues, useless/unkeepable resolutions, and a healthy dose of cold. However, January also produces, most years at least, a good snow or two. Snow is a burden for some and bliss for most between the ages of 2 and 18. But snow can be something far more than simply a powdery, white, fluffy substance. It can be a powerful and vivid metaphor for redemption.

I returned to Pittsburgh on Sunday to a decent amount of already fallen snow. Even more glaringly obvious was that an overabundance of salt had been used to attempt to rid university sidewalks, staircases, and roads of the white stuff. The snow was largely vacated from these surfaces, but the remaining salty remnants were everywhere. Any university building bore salty shoe/boot marks upon entering, which left white, chalky trails throughout the premises. I found these marks distracting and a stark reminder of the ugliness left behind by these snow melting/removal efforts. I wanted the salt to go, but I knew I was powerless to get rid of it. The only solution was to get more snow to cover the repulsive and pervasive salty mess. Fortunately on Tuesday the solution came.

Snow fell for the entire day. Glorious, pure, shining white snow. That night I knew I had to go for a walk to bask in majesty that is freshly falling snow. As I walked through Schenley Park, I was struck by the stark beauty of everything. No blemishes, no bare patches of grass, and nothing left untouched by the shimmering white powder. A new beginning for a new year. Then it hit me. Snow is metaphorically representative of redemption, and, speaking in terms of nature, literal as well. Don't see it, I'll break it down for you.

The salt is sin. It's everywhere, you can't get rid of it (the world says that's ok), and it leaves a hideous stain on everything it touches. We (humanity) are the sidewalks, stairs, and roads. Head to toe we are covered with the salt, and on our own we are powerless to remove it. We try to the best of our ability, but our efforts fall so far short and our entirely futile. In short, we need a solution. Enter the solution: snow, which is really Jesus Christ. Jesus provides the cleansing and removes the stain. Just like snow, Jesus covers every sin. No sin is too great or individual beyond redemption. In the song "Nothing but the Blood" the lyrics provide a direct link between the two: "Oh! precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow." Furthermore, like snow, Jesus provides a new beginning. What some might refer to as second life or being "born again." This is an existence free from the burden and oppression of sin. His death on the cross was the original 'Emancipation Proclamation,' and it intended to bring life and salvation to all who believed. 'A new beginning.' 2010 is as well.

Too often we forget this lesson, and the power of new beginnings that Jesus brings. 2010 is not an extension of 2009. 2009 produced both good and bad memories for me. The Steelers won the Super Bowl, I got closer to friends/others drifted away, 21 came and went, laughs were shared, hugs exchanged, some classes didn't turn out like I hoped, I got stuck working at the same job this summer I had last, and the list could go on. But the point is all these things are in the past. 2009 is over. I have a blank slate with 2010, and I need to see what God has in mind.

This year is a new beginning. I plan to work harder, play less, spend less, engage more (both activities and people), and a whole host of others. However, at the end of the day, I'm not the one who should be in control. The first new beginning, which shouldn't really be new, is that I need to put God in the driver's seat. In my relationships, my actions, and my life God should be #1. But things get in the way and make everything a mess, just like all that salt. Rationalization and justification replace love and faith. Yet, God never gives up on you even to the point when any, even the most reasonable, person would walk away. What is it like to love perfectly? I don't know because I am incapable of doing so. Only God is. Still, this year holds promise. Yes, it will be imperfect but that shouldn't discourage. Relationships can be healed, friends reconnected with, classes can improve, jobs can become more enjoyable, and most importantly God can be the central focus of your life. Don't take my word for it. Newly fallen snow is all the proof you need that redemption is real.

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