No, I’m not being facetious.
After this winter, I won’t be sorry to see spring come (although I’m beginning to suspect that spring this year means small flocks of robins chirping happily in the midst of a light snow shower. I’ve never heard birdsong in the midst of a snow storm before this morning, have you?)
But let’s face it, for anyone who loves winter, this was a year to remember. And I am one of those rare (crazy?) individuals who love it. I love walking outside into air that makes my face hurt. I love when little vapor clouds completely shroud my vision. Some days I even love the quiet that comes with early darkness, trudging along next to the glow of my dog’s red-lighted collar. (I do not love spending 30 minutes chipping ridiculously hard frost off my windshield every morning, but really, that is a small price to pay.)
Of course, if it’s going to be cold, I want snow. And this year we had plenty of that too. Our first major snow storm hit in December and I didn’t see bare ground again until March – very unusual for this part of the country. It was so cold one week that snow I tracked into my car stayed there, unmelted, for 4 days, even though I was driving with the heat on.
That’s just cool.
There was one very important observation I made this year, however. And it’s this:
Now this may seem like an obvious observation, but in practice, it’s not so easy. It’s very tempting to run the garbage out with just a hastily thrown on coat. Or to take a quick walk with the dog without taking the time to put on a complete second layer. But on those really cold days, it didn’t matter if it was just a short jaunt outside, I needed boots, ski pants, jacket, hat (and hood if the wind was really whipping), scarf, gloves… in other words, I needed to be prepared for what I was getting into. And when I prepared properly, I could spend hours in the snow outside – even the coldest temperatures felt like any other day.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, we’ve been told before about the importance of dressing properly. “Put on the full armor of God,” Paul admonished “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…” (Ephesians 6:13)
It’s not enough to run out the door just as we are. We need to put forth the time and the effort to prepare for whatever storm outside – physical or spiritual – awaits us. It may be tempting to run out quickly, but just as severe winter storms can be deadly for the unprepared, so too can life’s storms sweep over us unexpectedly.
Do not wait until you are in life’s gale to reach for your armor. Take the time now – everyday – to sharpen your sword in God’s word, to strengthen the shield of your faith, and to envelope yourself in the protection of God’s truth, righteousness, peace, and salvation. Yes, it takes time to layer on those winter clothes, and yes, it takes time to develop your spiritual armor. But when we are properly attired, even the worst storms will leave us still standing safe and secure.
Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).