Our daughter Jill came into town for my birthday celebration last week. It has been, like always, a joy to have her here with Drew. It’s always good to be surrounded by your children, regardless of what age they are. And while I enjoy the change of seasons here in central Indiana, as I am a midwestern boy at heart, I am constantly amazed at the different types of weather that Jill and her family experience in western Oklahoma.
Not only that, but the severity of the weather out there is something to behold as well. I remember one of the times that I landed at the Oklahoma City airport and couldn’t believe the “big sky” that greeted me. It was as if the horizon went on forever, in part because the land is rather flat and the sky takes on huge proportions. And when there is a storm approaching, it is beautiful, something to behold. You can see the whole storm system advancing and when I stand on Jill’s porch, it’s like I have a front row seat to what God is doing with nature. But the news has been rampant the last several days about a weather front that is moving through Oklahoma. They were expecting up to 24 inches of snow and winds in excess of 58 mph. Now that’s what they called a “life threatening blizzard”.
This morning, when I heard about the storm moving through Oklahoma, I was immediately reminded of the Chicago blizzard of January, 1967. In that storm, 23 inches of snow fell in just over one day. I was only 13 at the time, one month short of my 14th birthday, but I remember it like it was yesterday. We lived at 10050 S. Claremont on the south side of Chicago and I recall how I walked to school the first morning of the storm and found that it had been closed. We lived several short blocks from the school, and when I left home, I headed east to Oakley, Bell and then Leavitt, where Sutherland Elementary School was located. In fact, it is still in existence today.
I returned home and by then the storm was raging. I was exhausted, but was asked by a neighbor if I would be interested in shoveling snow for some extra money. Of course, I was interested. But I decided to wait until things calmed down. That was the wrong move. Because the next day, there were several feet of snow, in addition to all the drifting that was occurring in the high winds. It had blown against the garage door and was up to my thighs. It was some of the heaviest, wettest snow I had ever encountered and it took hours and hours to even make a dent in the driveway.
Another neighbor walked by in the middle of the street, following the ruts that a car had made trying to get down the road. They carried a bundle that I later found out was their daughter – a little child who had been born with severe physical problems including, but not limited to, an inability to feel pain. She was always getting burned on stoves and by hot water, and the parents were trying to carry her to the hospital, miles away. I learned that the little girl died that day – I don’t know the cause of her death but I remember the parents carrying her down the middle of the road. The whole neighborhood mourned her loss and I couldn’t help but recall it today as I saw the pictures of the storm in OK.
I even went online and replayed the news reports of the Chicago storm. To this day, it is the worst storm in Chicago history. How vividly I remember trying to get to Slezak’s grocery with my Dad, a block or two from our home, to get basic supplies. It was the first time in my life that I saw that the shelves were totally bare – it made quite an impression.
The verse for tonight is about another kind of snow – describing that God is as white as the snow. In the beginning of the book of Revelation, the apostle John recounts how he dreams about a figure that he encounters. We are told, in Rev. 1:14, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.” That’s quite a picture of God, don’t you think? White as snow, wool; and blazing fire! It must have been something for John to behold. No wonder he was speechless and fainted.
My encouragement this evening is that God is an awesome God. And while nobody has actually laid eyes on Him, except the Son, He is there for you to speak with at any time of any day. My prayer is that you will come to appreciate the true magnificence of God and that you will realize that the God of all nature desires a personal relationship with you – whether it is on a serene, calm summer day, or in the middle of an incredible blizzard. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…