Life in the “North Country” of New York State is amazingly beautiful but it is also filled with many harsh realities. There is a magnificent change of seasons but high unemployment due to the seasonal nature of most jobs. There is a lusciously green spring, but a very short summer that is filled with swarms of black flies. One of the harshest diversities is the beauty of snow-covered peaks and the long, cold, dark winter with sub-zero temperatures. People who live in this region expect at least one or two extended blasts of Canadian Arctic air to sweep over the mountains in January and February. It drops to 35 or 40 below zero and can stay there for weeks at a time.
When this happens most everything slows down, and in some cases grinds to a frozen stop. Schools close, vehicles will not start and businesses don’t open. Life comes to a momentary halt as people curl up next to the fire, throw wood on the stove or crank up whatever it is that heats their hone. Most only go outside when they have to get food, walk a dog, restock the wood pile or clear the driveway from a few feet of snow. Those who do brave the weather are bundled up in layers so that only their eyes are left peeking out through a cloth tunnel.
Strangely enough, there are a few brave souls who still take their daily walk in these frigid conditions. They can be heard walking a quarter of a mile away because at that temperature, the snow squeaks under foot like nails on a chalk board. It’s a truly amazing sound that must be heard to really be understood. One other sound that is truly unearthly is a loud, wooden “POP!” that emanates from deep inside the trunk of spruce trees. This happens because the sap in the tree freezes and expands. However the trunk itself is shrinking due to the strong cold and the results is that something must give. Fibers in the wood split open under immense pressure and that cracking can sound like a gunshot on cold January nights. Strangely enough, out of that pressure and damage comes a great good. It is this very process that makes spruce such a tough, resilient wood and the preferred material for building the best log cabins.
All of us experience our own winter season at different times in life. It comes when nothing seems to be going right, and life feels bitter, cold and harsh. We have disappointments, misunderstandings or just do the wrong thing in a moment of thoughtlessness. People we love may die, a job we need may be lost or a dozen other unexplained things can sweep in and take over like an Arctic cold-front. When this happens what are we to do? Do we give up and become bitter and resentful, or does God have a better plan?
In those times of winter distress, the best thing we can do is to move in close to the fire of God’s love, and patiently endure. No matter how cold it may be in that season of life, the Song of Solomon gives us an assurance that eventually the winter will pass! God has not forgotten you, even if at times you may have forgotten Him. He will never forget you because He loves you with a fierce, everlasting love. What He wants to do in those difficult seasons is to make changes deep in you that can’t be made in any other way.
Like the Spruce tree that cracks deep inside on a cold January night, God uses our difficult seasons to make deep changes in us. He allows pressure to build up against those things that have to go, and then “CRACK!” they are exposed and can be dealt with. Take a moment to ask God right now to help you change in your winter season. You can do more than just “go” through it, you can “grow” through it and become better. If you learn the lesson of the Spruce tree, who knows what magnificent things the hand of God may yet build out of your life. Now go and live your life with honor and expectant joy. Remember, no matter how cold and dark the winter may be, your Spring will surely come!