Here on the Black Isle of Scotland, everyone is rejoicing now that the sun is staying visible longer and snowdrops are pushing timid white heads up to look around while royal purple crocuses snap to attention along the sides of narrow lanes. Winter is fleeing, following the freezing breath of snow and ice into last year’s memories.
Some people hate winter. I’ve always hated winter. I hate being cold. I used to mix cement and build with rocks in 100-plus degree temps in south Texas. Ironic that I should now live in Scotland where it rarely makes it to 70 degrees even in the “summer.”
Winter brings cold temperatures that kill people, animals and plants; traffic-snarling storms; massive banks of snow that must be moved, and increased heating costs. So, why winter?
Psalm 74:17 says that “God made summer and winter.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”
Winter provides a Sabbath for the land. Most people get at least one day a week off work to rest. Rested employees are less likely to have accidents or get sick. Manufacturing equipment that shuts down for at least one day a week is less prone to malfunctions. Jesus said that people were not made for keeping the Sabbath to please God, but rather, that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of people to give them rest.
I had a lovely rough collie named Scot in the southern U.S. Scot visited nursing homes. He made friends with everyone and everything he met including deer, a wild rabbit, a feral cat, a baby bird, a turtle, a possum, cats in the neighborhood. He was so friendly that even small animals were unafraid of him. Scot got protothecosis; there is no treatment, no cure, and it is 100 percent fatal. Dogs in Scotland don’t get protothecosis. It’s too cold for the cannibalistic algae. Nor are there mosquitoes, fire ants, venomous spiders or a plethora of other aggravating and dangerous insects. This is a winter land. Winter provides surcease.
Tulips must be kept cold to burst into energetic flames of spring color. Peach trees need numbered winter days of extreme cold to ensure a plentiful summer harvest.
Like God’s creation of nature, our personal lives cycle through seasons, from joy to despair, from busyness and fullness to emptiness and boredom. Why winter? Sometimes it takes a cold, barren winter wilderness experience to turn our hearts fully to God. To make us appreciate the benefits He daily loads into our lives. If every step of our path through life was lined with fabulously blooming flowers, we would quickly turn aside to grass.
Before we lament the winter wilderness experiences in our lives, we should read about history’s first recorded Christians in Acts 5:40-41. “They called for the apostles and beat them…and the apostles departed, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name.”
These early Christians rejoiced in winters – trusting that earthly hardships were short and nothing to be compared to the eternal blessings of Jesus.
We should enjoy spring and let the winter go – but when it comes around again – we should embrace it like an old friend who is walking us into the kingdom of God.