Yesterday, as the snow was falling and cars were sliding and churches (including ours) were canceling services for the day, I was reminded of the beauty of snowfall and my past reflections on how much it reminds me of the grace of God at work in our world and in our lives. I composed a tweet, ran it by my wife, looked up a definition or two to make sure I wasn’t being provocative for provocation’s sake.
The grace of God is like this snow. Beautiful coming down and blanketing everything. But it can make for treacherous traveling, too.
After some hesitation, I hit “tweet.” And then I began thinking about it more and more. Grace comes for us all, like a heavy, slow-falling snow. It piles up, smooths out and covers everything white. That part of the definition is easy for me. God’s grace is there for us all. Christ Jesus has done the work for us all. The snow covers everything indiscriminately and you and I can rest beneath its covering. Grace is beautiful.
Snow is more than beautiful, though. Snow melt, of course, is good for the earth. It slowly waters our gardens, like the proverbial ice cube in the soil of our poinsettia plants. But there’s more. One study recently found that a 9 inch snow pack can keep the surface temperature of the ground at 28 degrees F, even with an air temperature as low as -14 F. Snow also does a bit of fertilizing for us. As it melts, it deposits nitrogen in the soil, which is necessary for healthy soil. Snow, like grace, protects what it covers. It’s not all treacherous. It does some important good.
Snow is messy, though. It wreaks havoc with our lives and travels and ordinary days. It’s dangerous, for crying out loud. In that way, surely it is not like grace. This was the tricky part of my tweet yesterday. Grace in and of itself is not treacherous. But traveling on that grace can be. In my own experience, knowing the grace of God and living fully into that grace can make my relationships and interactions with others more treacherous as I travel. Suddenly, I begin to slip and slide in my interactions with others who (in my mind, at least) do not “deserve” the grace I’ve received from God. It is treacherous traveling because I do not want to take those risks. I do not always want to share the grace with others that I have known myself. I slide. I get stuck. I crash into people and things along the way. I need a snow plow and a tow truck to get me unstuck, sometimes. I don’t even know all that I mean by that imagery, but you get the picture. Sometimes, God’s grace freely given to me is not freely passed from me to others. It is beautiful coming down and good for the soil of my life, but treacherous to travel on if I am not careful, prayerful and attentive to the conditions of the road.
But here I come full circle. The grace that started me off is there to meet me again when I slide into the ditch of my selfishness and sin. Amazing. Grace meets me – meets us – at every turn. It gives life and does good, even when the going is treacherous.