Looking outside, snow covers everything. It’s cold and a great time to remember lots of snowy days through the years. Sitting, looking and thinking my mind runs back through the years and snowy days that invade my thoughts. I remember the time in high school, I think it was in the 12th grade when we had a big snow in Alabama. I know it was during the days when I was dating Linda and I think it was soon after her sister, Talulah had died in childbirth, I wanted to see her and at least, walk in the snow with her. Somehow I convinced Dad to allow me to drive to Vernon, in the snow and see her. I remember the snow beginning to fall again so I went to my sister, Dorothy’s house and spent the night there with Mike, my nephew. I do remember walking in the snow with Linda and playing a little, but it was hard for her mind to go far from the events and hurt from her sister’s death.
I remember when Linda and I were at Freed-Hardeman one year there was a big snow. We were living in Pocahontas, where I was preaching on Sunday’s and driving back and forth to Henderson, Tennessee each day. It came a big snow and we were stuck at home with school closed for the day. We had a small dog at the time and I can see us running and playing in the snow with that dog. Too many years have passed for me to remember its name.
There were lots of snows in North Little Rock, during the years when our daughters were growing up and I remember when we lived on Rolling Hills and having a great time playing in the snow, sliding down the hill and trudging our way back up again. After years had passed I also remember a great snow when our grandchildren were getting old enough to play in the yard and on the street in the snow. Home made sleds always seemed to work better than the ones we had purchased in the store somewhere along the line.
Now, many more years have passed. Today, it is more a matter of grandchildren sending pictures of them playing in the snow with the great grandchildren and we are able to enjoy the sight without feeling the cold or risking a fall. Life changes. Thank God, in the midst of life’s changes we are blessed with memories and allow us to relive wonderful times and see again the snowman that brought us more laughter than would have ever have been thought of as a work of art.
Seeing the snow reminded me of the very few times in the Bible that snow is mentioned. One of these times is a passage that has always intrigued me. It is in 2 Samuel 23:20-23 in a segment near the death of David. It is telling about the heroics of his mighty men. “And Benaiah the son of Jehoida was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and won a name beside the three mighty men. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.”
The writer didn’t take up much space telling of the powerful feats of Benaiah. Isn’t it amazing that he would tell of the many powerful things about him and his honors but note that he didn’t reach the height of the three? It certainly shouts the message to us that we can do some wonderful things in life and still not attain the height of some others. The pictures of his heroics though stand out. Can’t you visualize this warrior going down into a pit to fight a lion on a snowy day and killing it? I can’t really imagine fighting a lion on any day. I certainly can’t imagine going down into a pit to take on a lion. And the addition of the weather conditions at the time being a snowy day makes it all the more interesting. I wonder if he slid as he was going down into the pit. Had the lion attacked some of the animals that belonged to him or his family? How did he know that the lion was in the pit, to begin with? All we really know is that he was a mighty man of valor and David respected him enough to put him in charge of his bodyguards. Beyond the snowy day, picture the one of the Egyptian with a spear in his hand standing there and Benaiah going to him with only a staff in his hand, grabbing the spear from the man’s hand and killing him with his own spear is pretty amazing as well. Benaiah is certainly a good person to remember on a snowy day.
Another snow day mentioned in Scripture that is worth remembering is in Isaiah 1:18. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” Just the picture of our sins being red like crimson, means they are bright colored and obvious both to us, to others and to God. When our sins stand tall in front of us they often fill us with grief and pain at the very thought that we could have done such awful things. Often it is only some time after a wrong has been done that we can actually bring ourselves to see it in all it’s ugliness. Soon after any sin, our tendency is to make excuses for the wrong or to try to convince ourselves and everyone else that it really wasn’t all that bad. But as time goes by we begin to see the wrong for all the pain and hurt that it actually cause. But, no matter how awful the sin, God will forgive it when we turn to him and wash it so completely away that we become as white as snow. As I look out the window at the brightness of the white snow on the ground, I’m amazed that God so fully forgives that there isn’t even a hint of the stain left anymore.
David used the same comparison as he talked about God’s forgiveness of his sin with Bethsheba after God had sent Nathan the prophet to confront him with his sin. Nathan had told a story of a rich man with all kinds of sheep in his pasture having a poor neighbor who had only one lamb that he loved like his own child. The rich man had company so he took the poor neighbor’s sheep, killed it and cooked it for his company. David was furious and cried out, “This man will surely die.” Nathan said, “You are the man.” God reminded David how, as king he was the wealthy man whom God had given many wives and would have given more if he had asked. But he instead stole the wife of Uriah the Hittite and had sex with her, then killed him to hide his sin. But notice as David writes Psalms 51 about that sin and what he felt afterward, he said, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” David painted the picture of his guilt and the brightest of tones. But he pictured God’s forgiveness as being even brighter and fuller. God so cleansed him of his guilt that he was now whiter than snow.
How often have you tried to get a stain out of something that you wanted to be able to wear again but had stained it pretty badly? Sometimes, no matter how much Spray and Wash you put on it, the stain still won’t go away. But God cleanses with the precious blood of Jesus and there is no stain that it won’t totally remove so that there isn’t even a hint of the stain left.
Lookout at the snow one more time. Think about your guilt being so totally removed you are whiter than the snow on the ground. But I must turn to God for that forgiveness. He has the cleansing power but I must believe in him enough to put myself into the wash.