It’s a common misconception that the Canadian prairies don’t have mountains. We do. We have an abundance of them! Between December and April, you’ll find them in the corners of many parking lots and on vacant land, just like the mountain my brother-in-law climbed in the photo above. But as I went for a walk the other day, I noticed that the mountain of snow that the ploughs had piled up on the side of our road was finally gone.
As I passed the spot where a mountain had once stood and revelled in the sight of the grey grass and a pretty sunset, I was reminded of a thought I had last year while on outdoor recess duty at school (recess duty has a way of making you re-evaluate your life). Our school parking lot had some really big mountains last year, and I distinctly remember the day when I realized that the mountains had halved in size. I discovered something significant that day – about our Winnipeg snow, and about our Heavenly Father.
You see, every Winnipegger hits a point – usually in late January or early February – when it feels as though winter will never end. The mountains have not yet reached their maximum peak, daily indoor recess strikes again, and the air literally hurts your face as temperatures plunge to -40C. The land is covered in a three-foot thick blanket of blinding, beautiful, yet sinister, white snow, and as you step outside in your Michelin Man attire, you heave a heavy sigh, thinking, “Will this ever end?” You have long forgotten the airy feeling of slip-on sandals (or even ankle-high shoes) or of enjoying the warm outdoors in shorts and a t-shirt. Was that actually a thing you used to do only three short months ago? All you can see are mountains of snow that now block your line of vision while driving, and you try with all your might to imagine the green grass you once knew. “Will this snow ever melt?”
You know the answer in your head. Of course it will warm up and of course it will melt! It does every year. Yet somehow, it’s so hard to imagine… or to believe. Or maybe you can believe it, but all you can think about is the two more months of winter before the melting will even begin. Two more months of snow.
And yet somehow, after much weeping and gnashing of teeth, you eventually reach that date when you step outside and notice that the mountains are half their previous size – sometimes overnight! Then after a few April snowfall-setbacks, you finally reach the day when the last of all the mountains are gone. The warm weather has stuck around long enough to melt it all and you celebrate with a barbeque, filling the springtime air with the amazing aroma of marinated meat, exclaiming to the blue prairie skies: “It is finished! The winter is over!”
You see, we couldn’t actually see the snow physically melting, but every day, one crystal after another was being melted by the increasing warmth of the sun. And before our very eyes, the mountains were swept away… sometimes before we even realized it.
Winnipeg winters remind me of God’s promises. God promises us many things, but sometimes it feels as though we’re stuck in a freezing, endless winter of unfulfilled words. We begin to wonder, “Will this ever end? Will spring ever come? Can God or will God actually do what He has promised?” Our head knowledge tells us that He’ll certainly accomplish His Word, and yet even though we’ve seen Him do so before (maybe even every year), somehow it can still be so hard to imagine – or to believe.
And yet, what we don’t realize is that as we trudge on and move forward – one day at a time – God is working behind the scenes. The earth continues to rotate on its axis, bringing us closer to the warmth of the sun, and God continues His work, bringing us ever closer to His fulfilled promises.
One day, we see a glimpse – a glimmer of hope! We suddenly see some movement, some progress, or growth. And though sometimes another snowfall may put a damper on that hope, all the while, the crystals keep melting.
Then comes the day when we notice the snow is entirely gone! We realize the fulfillment of the promise! It can be a sudden surprise, or a gradual realization. And as the days get warmer and warmer, we become increasingly certain that spring is officially here; the Word has been fulfilled. God has done it again.
Maybe your winter isn’t an unfulfilled promise, but is some other circumstance or trial. COVID-19 and all its repercussions seem like the longest, coldest winter yet. So when you’re facing the extreme windchills of fear, the deep snows of frustration, or mountains of obstacles in your work, remember this: Winter always ends. Sometimes it ends sooner than we expect, and sometimes it takes longer, but one thing is sure: God always brings the spring.