So here’s my question as I write on this frosty Saturday evening: When is a weekend snow event simply a meteorological occurrence and when, if ever, is it a test of faith?
After over 30 years in ministry, mostly in areas where we have real seasons and snow (which I love), here’s my vote: Snow’s snow. If you want to elevate the weekend white stuff to test of faith status, be my guest. But as a test of faith, it’s a very poor one—something worse than a paper cut and much less serious than a hemorrhoidal condition. A test of faith? Nah. Not snow.
The church leaders I work with do well with this, I think. Our decision about services tomorrow will be much more about ice than theology.
That said, faith and theology do slide in here a bit. In my experience, folks who most know that they can fully trust Christ’s completed sacrifice on the cross are folks who most often show real faith in practical ways. They attend. They give. They help and encourage. They’re neither too “spiritual” to do real work or too lackadaisical to be counted on. (I’ve seen World War II vintage folks in hospital beds who were just about to flatline who’ve rallied evidently just to write one more tithe check! Committed? Oh, yes!)
But I’ve also noticed that the most faithful folks are often also among the most genuinely thankful for a Sunday when the Lord dumps a ton of snow on us, evidently expecting us to sleep late, toss a log on the fire, use good sense, and praise Him for a real surprise Sabbath rest.
I admit it. I always hope we get buried by a really big weekend snow once a year—so big that the “cancel or not” decision is easy. I figure folks who habitually skip church if the barometric pressure isn’t right or there’s a heat wave in Mozambique get plenty of chances for Sunday sleep. The rest of us deserve one, too. My thanksgiving on that Sunday could hardly be more heartfelt. If you think I’m not religious enough to be a preacher, well, tell me some real news.
It’s probably my carnality that makes me wonder if it’s because we’ve been short of persecution, real tests of faith, that we’d ever see snow as a faith freeze-test: “Neither rain nor sleet nor snow, and I’d probably handle a lion in the Coliseum or being burned at the stake, too. Maybe better than you.” (That last part is Satan’s favorite.)
Persecution may indeed come. If I feel a weird need to rush it, I figure I can always buy a plane ticket and go recite the Lord’s Prayer aloud in a mosque in, say, Iran. That should do it.
But I doubt I need to look that far for faith tests. How about getting up to help my wife do the dishes? Or changing a smelly diaper. Or a stinky attitude. Shoveling snow for a widow. Giving more than I can easily spare. Non-glitzy tests of faith abound. Right here. Right now. No snow required.
I’m fine with whatever decision we make about cancelling services tomorrow. So are our church leaders. No wonder I like working with them.
Snow’s just snow. Unless…I find myself looking down my cold and drippy nose at folks who see the white stuff and make a different decision—either way—than me or mine. Then snow has become a faith test. One that I’ve failed.
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! And Happy Thanksgiving!
Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.