It was one of those Facebook quiz things: “Which Bible verse will guide your life in 2017?” I can’t help but click on them, and being this was at least semi-Scripture oriented, it held even more of a draw. I must confess, I sometimes treat them like a fortune cookie: discard a stupid result, proudly display something that resonates.
Boy, did this one resonate:
As I write this, I am watching a lovely snowstorm. The geese flew early this year, the summer and Indian summer were rather extended, we had about 2 weeks of genuine autumn, and then BAM! It started snowing in early December and I don’t think it’s stopped. This town of no-snow-days has had one already, and more may be coming. State highways are closed, and the interstate is closed for about 150 miles. No one is coming or going. It’s the great blizzard of 2017, one we can all remember in the future when we tell our grandchildren and great-grandchildren how we had to tie a rope from the door to the outhouse so we wouldn’t get lost while going to the loo…wait, that’s a Little House story. Nonetheless, it’s been a winter wonderland on steroids this year. And I’m totally looking forward to a summer in my boat on the lake that will be full to overflowing because of it!
Anyway, when I saw this verse, I started chuckling, because I automatically added, “And the blizzard will not overtake you.” Me, a middle-aged woman chuckling at a Facebook quiz result while standing in the aisle at the market, looking for gluten-free pasta…because that’s where I was. Stocking up. Dropping dollars for groceries that I wouldn’t be otherwise because preliminary reports have it that there will be no food deliveries for the greater part of the week. So my prepper husband whisked us off to the store to make sure we had enough groceries to get through at least this particular incarnation of the Apocolypse.
As we were unloading and I was stuffing items into the fridge and the pantry, wrapping those value packs of hamburger separately so I wouldn’t have to get too creative with three pounds of meat at a time, and as I watched our chest freezer fill up, package by package, I started thinking of winter about 15 years ago. It was a difficult time in our young marriage; we’d been broken financially and had lost everything. Our son was living with his grandmother, and my husband and I put a bed in the back of my downtown piano studio. Complete with microwave, fridge, hot pot and chest of drawers, we called a 20-square foot space home. With about $75 available each month for groceries (which, even all those years ago, wasn’t much), we packed as much bang for our buck into two backpacks and as we trudged from the store to our makeshift home we hoped that, between those and what we got from food boxes, we’d be able to eat.
One month during this particular winter, we couldn’t. It was a cold and grey Saturday; no students to teach and my husband was at work. As I looked at the shelves where we kept odd canned goods and other sundry food box items, I realized that there was simply nothing to make for dinner. My stomach was growling; I hadn’t eaten in about 2 days. I knew my husband was hungry. We’d tapped out any available food box programs…there was just too much month and not enough money or food. In desperation, I prayed, “God, just some ramen…I would love some ramen.” There may have been tears; knowing me, there probably were.
Not 15 minutes later, right as my husband was arriving, a friend came by and asked us if we could possibly use some ramen; he had a surplus and didn’t know what to do with it. My eyes bugged out of my head as I realized that “some” meant EIGHT CASES. Needless to say, that tided us over until the next paycheck and, not too long after that, we found ourselves in a new, much more stable position.
That was a blizzard. Oh, there were blizzards before and blizzards after…and God has safely brought us through every single one. He has been with us through the water, the rivers have not swept over us, and the fire has not set us ablaze (although it has gotten uncomfortably warm from time to time!). Last night, a friend called and asked if she and some other ladies could stay with us if they were unable to make it to their destination; based on the current road conditions, that stay could be relatively lengthy. As I unpacked all of those groceries, so easily gotten, I was overcome with gratitude. We have not been left stranded in the cold, but have been brought to a place where now it’s our turn to be able to provide shelter and offer others sustenance from our bountiful stores of food.
This journey, this series of 80 or more trips around the sun that prepare us for whatever is next, is not always easy. In fact, it’s rarely easy; it’s usually rigorous and challenging and, more often than not, we find ourselves shaking our heads in frustration and confusion wondering, “What is God thinking?” But what tender mercy He offers us, and what a promise that, no matter how difficult the situation, He is with us in the middle of it, leading us to a better place. The blizzard will not overtake you. There will always be a rope to hold; hang on, and you will find yourself safe and warm again.