Forgive me, but I have got snow on my mind. My three youngest children were home from school for three days and I have spent a majority of the week either watching the snow fall or shoveling it off the walkways and cars. Our neighborhood was picturesque under a mammoth blanket of white. Snow storms come with the territory and are part of the charm of living in New England. It is a given in this area that a few days a year everything stops as winter weather wallops us with a foot or more of the white stuff. This week just happened to be one of those times. For me, snow is a beautiful nuisance.
It is interesting, though, that something so small and seemingly insignificant – a crystallized water molecule – could become dangerous and destructive when it comes with many others of its kind. A few flakes in the air or underfoot are no problem, but a billion flakes in the same place can drift and topple trees or demolish vehicles. It would be foolish to ignore the blizzard warnings and the weather forecasts because a snow flake is innocuous; if enough surround you, the conditions could be deadly.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 (NIV)
In a way, the things that tempt us are like spiritual snowflakes. We all live in an area of the world where we are confronted with temptation, a testing of our character to evaluate our moral strength. Sometimes we are tempted to do something we know to be wrong and other times we are tempted to not do something we know to be right. Sometimes we are in a climate where there is a flurry of temptations, one or two flakes floating in the air that we can easily brush off and avoid. Other times we are in a climate conducive for a full blown storm and preparations need to be made.
There’s a joke that says you can tell if the owner of a car grew up in the North: no matter where they presently live, they still have an ice scraper under the seat and a snow shovel in the truck. Preparation is the key to surviving a winter storm – salt for the sidewalks and a stock of bread and milk from the store. There is also a need to be prepared for the blizzard of the temptations that beset even the best of us. There is a need for shelter from the storm in order to escape the accumulating troubles. There’s a need for supplies (necessary tools and sustenance) that must be acquired before the danger arrives. There is a need for strength to avoid destruction and to address the ‘clean-up’. God’s word and God’s Spirit are the provisions needed to endure a spiritual storm.
The worst thing that can happen is to be caught in a storm unaware of its arrival. As I get ready for the next bout of bad weather, I am reminded that little things (like temptations) can bring ruin if they are underestimated or overwhelming. I pray that we are all ready for the storms.