If you live in a cold climate, as I do, you’ll have noticed that winter has a way levelling us out.
It shows us we’re all in the same boat.
Let me explain:
No matter how rich or poor you are, you’re going to have to deal with snow one way or another. If you live in a cold climate, there’s no escaping this fact.
Whether you drive a snazzy, expensive car or a modest runabout, winter has a way of making all vehicles look rather crappy. No matter how much you paid for your car, road salt and slush will cover it with an ugly grey-brown film.
And despite searching high and low for the most fashionable winter parka, you’ll still end up looking like an Arctic explorer, indistinguishable from everyone else.
Winter has a way of humbling us.
I think sin has the same sort of levelling effect.
Whatever walk of life we come from, we’re all going to have to deal with our sins somehow. There’s no escaping it.
No matter how wealthy or poor we are, when sin sticks to us, it makes all of us look rather stained. Whether a pauper or a prince, the muck of sin covers us all.
And even if we try to gussy up our image and paper over our sins, it simply doesn’t work. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re any better or different than anyone else.
When it comes to sin, we’re all in the same boat.
A few weeks ago, I heard a lady say, “Happy In-Between!”
It took me a moment to figure out what she meant.
I finally realized that she was referring to the time after Christmas but before New Year’s. We don’t really have a term to describe the awkward period between these two holidays, so this lady settled on “In-Between,” and hoped we’d have a happy time during it.
It got me thinking about the other “in-between” times in our lives.
Many of us go through times when we’re in an awkward phase of waiting for something to happen.
Perhaps we believe God has given us a promise about something He will do in our lives, but it’s taking a long time to come to pass.
Maybe we’re trusting God for a healing, a new job, the restoration of a marriage, or the return of a prodigal child.
It can be hard to stay happy during a time of limbo, when nothing seems to be happening in our situation. As the months go by, our prayers don’t seem any closer to being answered.
So what do we do when we’re having trouble staying upbeat, faithful, and patient during the in-between times, when life just seems to be a hard slog?
What do blind people dream about?
Do they dream in pictures, or in sensations and sounds?
Researchers tell us that it depends on when they lost their sight.
The brains of those who went blind after ages five to eight will have received a lot of visual inputs during the years when they could still see. These individuals are able to form visual dreams using the images stored in their memory banks for a good while after they’ve lost their sight.
People who are blind from birth are different, researchers say. The brains of these individuals have no visual images to work with, so they don’t dream in pictures like the rest of us. Instead, their dreams are based on input from the other senses: sound, taste, smell, or touch.
The upshot is that the blind can only dream using the inputs they’ve received.
Isn’t this true for all of us, in a way?
We can only dream about achieving or receiving things based on the examples that have been “inputted” into our minds. If we have never seen a real-life example that something is possible, we’ll probably never dream about it for ourselves.
Does God have a bit of a memory problem?
It would appear so, according to the Bible.
Several Scriptures tell us that when God forgives our sins, he also forgets them.
Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God blots out our transgressions and remembers our sin no more.
Hebrews 8:12 echoes this: “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
But if God’s memory of the sinful things we did is wiped clean, why isn’t ours?
Why didn’t He arrange it so that we can’t remember our shameful deeds, either?
I’m sure many of us would love to have amnesia about our moral failures, but God knows that this isn’t best for us.
I think there are several reasons for this:
Isn’t it lovely to receive a long letter from someone who loves you?
In an age of tweets, text messages, and sound bites, perhaps many of us are missing out on this special joy.
Several times a year, I am privileged to receive a long missive from an older male relative. These letters are hand-written, and the latest one was 18 pages long! I treasure these letters, and go back to them time and again to refresh my memory about what he’s said.
In the letters, my relative will share his views on world events, discuss the progress his garden is making, or pass along some wisdom about life. Invariably, he’ll also throw in a bit of cornball humour.
Throughout the letters are woven his love and regard for me. After all, you wouldn’t go to the trouble of writing an 18-page letter to someone if you didn’t care about them, would you?
Would you like to receive a letter like that from someone who loves you?
In fact, you already have!
God Himself has written letters to you in the form of the Bible.
It’s natural to divide your life into “before” and “after,” isn’t it?
We mentally calculate whether something happened before or after certain important events in our lives.
We might say that such-and-such happened before we moved to Boston, or after we got married. We may recall that another thing happened after we had our son but before the twins were born.
Ancient cultures did something similar. Those with monarchies would mark events in relation to what king was on the throne at the time. They’d say that something happened in the 9th year of the reign of King so-and-so.
Certainly, most of us will divide our lives into pre-and post-pandemic eras. March of 2020 was a clear demarcation point between our previous “normal” life and one dominated by COVID-19.
The dividing lines of our lives will be different for all of us, but what most of the world has in common is the use of the same calendar system to mark off years. This system has its own before-and-after pivot point.
For instance, most of us just celebrated the start of AD 2022.
What does the “AD” mean, anyway? Or “BC” for that matter?