T. PIERCE BROWN
This is being written a little aftermidnightabout the time that is called the blizzard of 1996, with up to four feet of snow in some sections of the country and almost a foot in my driveway. However, I happened to be reading in the Songs of Solomon and found in chapter 2, verses 11-12, “For, lo, the winter is past; The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.” As I meditated on the contrast between what Solomon said and what I had experienced the day before, two kinds of thoughts struggled within me trying to be born.
First I thought of the harshness of the cold biting wind as I shoveled the snow from my driveway. Then I thought of how trivial that was compared to the difficulty and suffering of those stranded for days in an airport, or freezing to death in a car stuck in a snowdrift. We need to heed the words of the song:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Second, I thought that one can dwell on the slush and dirt created by the passing world, or one can dwell on the pristine beauty of the lovely snow; the perfection, symmetry and the unique individuality of each snowflake, and thus reflect on the wisdom, power and glory of God. One can always think of the glass as half empty, or as half full. How he perceives reality will make a difference in his life. One can think of a rose bush that always has thorns that prick, or one can think of a thorn bush that always has beautiful roses to enjoy. The beautiful blanket of God’s gracious goodness and love has provided a cover for the dark and dreary reality of our dead and dirty existence. I need to be able to recognize the reality of both, but if my response is constantly, “The snow may be pretty, but underneath it is treacherous ice, dead limbs, and dirt,” I miss much of the joy of life.
Third, this reading from Solomon made me realize that one of the differences inTennesseeand theSaharadesert is that we have a wonderful variety of freshness and beauty in every season of the year, whereas there we seem to find the same bleak harshness at all times. It helped me to realize that I could not have the thrill of climbing the mountain if there were no valleys through which I must pass. There could not be a rainbow without the rain. It may well be that I would not appreciate the gentle warm breeze of spring had I not felt the harsh biting wind of winter.
Fourth, as I meditated on the Song of Solomon, the thought came to me that by faith one may enjoy a future reality even in a depressing present. How many millions have found comfort in many verses in the Bible such as Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” I could say in the spirit with Solomon, “The winter is past,” if in my heart it was past. To the eternal and timeless God the springtime is probably as much a reality now as it will be to us when it arrives. So, to the extent that I have the Spirit of God and walk in faith, to that extent I may enjoy the reality of spring in anticipation almost as much as when it actually arrives. We see the unseen (2 Cor.4:18).