Hold on to the Rope

If you know me well, you know that I am a big fan of snow, and so, I have been disappointed again so far in the winter of 2019. I know, all of you from “up north” will tell me if I had ever lived through snow like you did, I wouldn’t want to see it. But I didn’t, and I do. Every single winter.

I am not sure what it is about snow that I am so enamored with. Obviously it is beautiful to see, both when the flakes are fluttering down in front of our eyes, and when they accumulate to cover the ground and bushes and trees (and even roads). I also enjoy playing in it, though my poor, old brittle body doesn’t quite cooperate to do the crazy snow stunts of my youth. 

There’s also the gift that wintry precipitation brings to us in the deep south: the snow day. I was reading this week about how when everything is shut down on a snow day it is like a free day of few responsibilities. And the author compared it to what a Sabbath was intended to be for God’s people. I do like that analogy, and the Sabbath experience that comes with snow.

But then there are those snowfalls, that I have rarely experienced, that are dangerous. No, I’m not talking about our “Snowmageddon” from a few years back, when the worst thing that happened for most people was they got to do a sleepover at their office or school. I am talking about serious blizzards–akin to what we had in Alabama in March, 1993–when snow moves from fun to scary, and people’s lives are literally at stake.

In his book A Hidden Wholeness, author Parker Palmer tells a story about farmers in the Midwest who would prepare for such dangerous blizzards by tying a rope from the back door of their house out to the barn as a guide to ensure they could return safely home. Their winter storms were known to come quickly and fiercely and were very dangerous if you got trapped out in one. When a blizzard’s full force was blowing, a farmer could not see the end of his or her hand.

Many froze to death in those snowstorms, disoriented by their inability to see in the heavy whirling snow. They wandered in circles, lost sometimes in their own backyards. If they lost their grip on the rope, it became nearly impossible for them to find their way home. Some froze within feet of their own front door, never realizing how close they were to safety.
To this day, in parts of Canada and the Great Plains, weather forecasters counsel people that, to void getting lost in the blinding snow when they venture outside, they tie one end of a long rope to their house and grasp the other end firmly.

So, what’s the point of this little meteorological anecdote? I’m glad you asked.

We live in a crazy, busy world, and are often overcome by the blizzard of daily distractions that cause us to lose our way in the whiteout swirling around us. Blizzards of saying yes to too many things. Of multitasking every minute so we can be productive, even though in the end the stress is counter-productive. Of being bombarded with so many messages and media on so many different platforms that we find it hard to keep up.

Add to that the storms and trials of life that blow into our lives unexpectedly and catch us off guard, and it is no wonder why so many of us are disoriented and confused. We need a rope to lead us back home.

God has provided that rope, and it is found in His word. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all that is accumulating around you, and if you can’t seem to see a way out, may I strongly suggest that you pull back on all the stuff of this world, and commit yourself to feeding on Scripture every day. His word is truth, and in it we find freedom.

I’m not talking about adding another duty to your to-do list or adding more to your already busy schedules. I am talking about resetting your entire life and reorienting your priorities so you don’t get caught up in the world’s confusion any longer. It’s a radical shift, but I believe for many of us it takes such a change for us to find peace and joy again in this crazy blizzard of a world in which we live.

So hold on to the rope, and find your way home through the truth of God’s word. And let’s hope and pray for at least one more chance of snow before this winter’s end!

I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.  

–Pastor Ken