36. SNOW FLURRY MOMENTS

SNOW FLURRY MOMENTS

 We normally don’t get a lot of snow where I live.  Once or twice each winter we may actually get an accumulation of a few inches, but normally it quickly melts and things return to normal –  wet, rainy, and with temperatures rarely below 30 or over 45.  But should we get one of those rare storms where we get a fairly substantial amount of snow that sticks around for a few days, many folks around here seem to think they’re experiencing “SNOWMAGGEDON”.  Schools and businesses close, most side streets remain unplowed because the city just isn’t equipped for such things, and every slight hill in the city becomes a kid’s paradise.

Having spent a few years growing up in places like Reno, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah, I have experienced winter where snow is not the exception, but the rule.  Granted, it’s not like folks enjoy (or endure) in places like the Midwest or Northeast, but it’s pretty hard to top the beauty of the snow coming over the Sierra Nevada or Wasatch Mountains.  Some of my fondest memories are of watching those huge flakes float down for hours, wondering how much we would get and how soon I could get out there and make a snowman or have a snowball fight with my friends.

Therefore, I was waiting in eager anticipation this past week when the weather forecast included snow for our region. It sounded like we could actually be getting one of “those” storms where our entire city would be turned into a winter wonderland. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the projections just didn’t pan out. While Mt Hood and the Cascades were dumped on, receiving so much new powder the ski resorts actually had to be closed down for fear of avalanches, here in the valley we were reduced to nothing more than the occasional snow flurry, lasting from 5 – 30 minutes, but never really enough to accumulate.

At first I was disappointed that the weather forecast had proven too optimistic.  But then it happened!  I was sitting in one of our regular Tuesday staff meetings when a decent size flurry started. The room we were sitting in had large windows on two sides, so all of us had a front row seat for this latest demonstration of God’s creativity. There’s just something compelling about watching a gentle snowfall. This flurry seemed to be creating a real “Currier & Ives” scene right before our eyes. It was absolutely beautiful.

I sat somewhat mesmerized watching what was happening outside the windows, perhaps paying less attention to what was being discussed than I should have. Then, after about 15 minutes, it suddenly just stopped! Almost without warning the sun came out and the whole view outside the windows changed. The skies quickly became bright and blue with little evidence left behind of what had just transpired. My short vacation into “real winter” came and went just like that. It wasn’t much more than a glimpse, but I sure enjoyed it!

Over the last several days we’ve continued to have numerous “flurries”.  Each time I’ve paused to notice the display, and each time I’ve actually been saddened when the flurry stopped.  I felt almost teased and wanted the snow to continue. Yet, I know that’s the nature of a snow flurry.  It’s not really a “snowstorm” – it’s just a brief disruption from the normal routine, at least in our area. It’s certainly enjoyable while it lasts, but it’s just not destined to stay around very long. It’s only a brief reprieve from the normal routine, whether I like it or not.

I don’t know about you, but my life seems to be filled with various moments that remind me of this week’s “snow flurries” – passing experiences that aren’t intended to last. Some bring a sense of nostalgia and peace. Others bring laughter and joy. Still others bring a moment of heartache and sadness.The “flurries” come and the “flurries” go – moments of time that encourage reflection, bring back memories, remind us of our limitations, and help us step away from the routine to see things from a new perspective. These interruptions to the status quo can be unsettling at times, but more often than not they can actually be refreshing. Stepping away from what has become “normal” to experience something different, even if it’s difficult, might be just what we need to recalibrate our lives.

In the past few weeks I have felt more stress than usual. Part of that has been because I haven’t been sleeping well, another part because of a heavier than normal workload, and rest the result of a number of other things going on around me that have drained my time and emotional energy. As an internal processor, I tend to withdraw as I try to work through such pressures and changes. Unfortunately, people always notice!! I spend so much of time above the curve that when I drop down below the curve it always shows. It’s not that I treat anyone rudely; I just get quiet….and anyone who knows me I’m not usually quiet. I heard that “AMEN”!

That’s where the snow flurry comes in!! In those few minutes earlier this week when that snow flurry hit during our staff meeting, I got to escape for a few minutes. The gentle falling snow calmed me down and reminded me that God has my back. He’s given me an incredible life experience that has included no shortage of opportunities to see His hand at work all around me. He’s interrupted my life with innumerable unexpected “moments” that I will never forget – a dinner on top of a Swiss Alp, a reconnection with a friend after years of separation, an opportunity to meet people well above my pay grade, watching my children be born, those special times of prayer as I’ve walked through my neighborhood, kissing my wife on the top of the Eiffel Tower, being publicly honored in front of family and friends, an unexpected financial blessing, and many, many more. Those moments came and went, just like a snow flurry, but they left behind some amazing memories that I will never forget.

At the same time, God’s also allowed me to walk through some “flurries” that weren’t as much , fun at the time, but were still something that has left an indelible imprint on my life. There was the moment when our car blew up at the California border as we were on our way to plant a church. I’ll never forget rushing my wife to the emergency room suffering from anaphylactic shock, or learning that my son had been in car accident that claimed the life of his girlfriend, or being told that I was being released from the job I loved. There were “flurries” of injuries, knee surgeries, financial setbacks, conflict at the church, broken relationships,  leading funerals for those who died too young, and many other moments that have impacted my life. Yet, these, too, were actually moments that were passing, only leaving behind memories of the “flurry” that I had just blown through my  life.

As someone told me once, the best verse in the Bible is, “And it came to pass…..”  You can almost fill in the blank on any experience we go through  — the good or the bad.  In very real ways, they are just “snow flurry moments” that are here for a while and then go away.  That doesn’t lessen the enjoyment of the pleasant flurries we experience nor diminish the heartache of a difficult ones. But in the end, they are just that…MOMENTS……and they came to pass!

Perhaps there is a truth in that we all need to adopt. I’m grateful God is helping me to see my life more as being a “moment to moment” experience. I don’t have to understand it all ….or even enjoy it all. But I can trust that He’s in control and that the “flurries” he sends my way are all a piece of the puzzle He’s putting together for my brief journey through my life on this side of heaven. So I’m looking for those “snow flurries” and committed to take in every one.  Enjoyable or not, I can’t help but think there’s something in each one that is too important to miss!