These are the days of looooooooong shadows. Sun rises at 9:09 AM and sets at 5:17 PM. Winter. January. Saskatchewan.
Now just that tiny little paragraph would scare off the most seasoned adventurous type folks, don't you think? But it makes me think of us here in this barren, frosted-over, freeze-your-buns-off place we call home. I watch the Weather Network...a LOT...and daily compare ourselves here in Prince Albert to our more southern, tropic-like city of Saskatoon...or Regina....or North Battleford...or Yorkton....or Moose Jaw.....and good ole' P.A. usually has the second coldest 'normals for this day', next to La Ronge...in ALL of Saskatchewan. So when I say, we are seasoned winter folk, we have the stats to prove it! I'm sure other folks keep track like I do. In fact, I know they do. We begin comparing temperatures...you know, like comparing hair styles, clothes, figures, houses, teeth, children, spouses, dogs....we compare our temps to those of other places. I think comparing stuff like temps is pretty fun but when we begin to compare other things, it can get way out of hand. We aren't supposed to do it.....
I'm sure it's because we want to make more of ourselves. If we compare ourself to Josephine Blow, surely she will not in any way measure up to US, right? We get ourselves in there and make like we are really better...in every possible way. But I suppose we could go the other route and say that when we compare ourselves to others, we make like we are much less than what we really are. So, either way, we're hooped! No comparisions. Best way to live!
In January though, I find myself comparing other things that don't involve people. I like to compare some of the photos I've taken in the summer and compare them to ones that have been clicked in the throws of winter. The feeling you get when viewing and comparing them is interesting. Seeing a photo of that summer sun beating down makes you almost warm inside...a good thing when it's -35C!!
January usually finds us indoors more of the time. We nestle down with some hot chocolate and a book....all cozy with our blanket....and read. It's what I do, at least. A perfect time for that sedentary hobby! A perfect time for thinking. A perfect time for comparing.....yes, comparing! Have we been measuring up to our potential? How do we measure up to the way we were this time last year? If we are Christians, we have a lot of comparing to do, I think. Have we improved in a particular discipline since we began that discipline a year ago? Not comparing ourselves to others but to how we have progressed along the way. Are we more loving and caring than we were yesterday. Comparing CAN be a good exercise when it makes us accountable to ourselves. What about that discipline of prayer? Can we say we are into a good rhythm of daily prayer compared to say....five years ago? As we compare, we are hopefully, moving ourselves forward like the seasons of the earth.
People though, have seasons, too! We may find ourselve in a difficult time, a winter of our life. We feel cold. Unable to move in any direction. We kind of just hibernate....until the warmth of the Son comes and He thaws out our cold, ridgid hearts. And the season of our life turns to spring where the seed is planted again, and we prepare ourselves for a season of growth. We learn lessons. We begin to again feel the heart working to prepare us for a season of harvest, one in which others can benefit from our own growth. And on and on it goes.
It's when our lives are below Zero....cold, stiff, immovable, and we believe we are ready to die from it all.....that is the time....when we are at our coldest and hardest and lowest into the darkness of our souls..... and our last breath is near, do we look and see in this state of hibernation that the only way to life...is UP...UP out of the ground,...UP to take a new breath.....UP into freshness and warmth that only the Son can bring.
I pray that if you find yourself these days in that cold state of nothingness...that before that last breath is taken, that you take one more look UP. See the possibilities. See the goodness. See life.
Remember....it's simply a season...and seasons do change! May you find peace in realizing that truth.