246) Two Snowstorms

     Life is a struggle, Paul says in Ephesians 6, and we know what he means.  We face struggles with children and with parents, with spouses and bosses, with co-workers, employees, neighbors, and authorities.  There are struggles for health, struggles with finances, and struggles against despair, fatigue, and frustration.  We know the feeling.  To live is to do battle on many fronts.

     Paul goes right to the center of all these struggles and says that at the very heart of it all, this is a spiritual struggle.  It is a struggle to do right and not do wrong; it is a struggle to have faith and hope, and to not give in to despair and unbelief; it is a struggle to know and hang on to the truth of Jesus Christ that transforms everything.  The struggle continues, but when you know and believe that truth, you can know that one day the struggle will end and you will still be all right.  And knowing that you will be all right in the end can change one’s whole view of the struggle.

     I have struggled through many snowstorms.  I worked my way through college driving milk trucks, garbage trucks, and school buses.  And there were many days that we had to be out on the road in the very worst weather.  And although I never looked forward to having to drive on bad roads with poor visibility, there was always something exhilarating about getting the work done on days like that.  I remember especially the January 1975 ‘Blizzard of the Century’ as it was called in Minnesota.  The first day of the storm nothing moved.  It was impossible to go anywhere.  The next day was only a little better, but we had to get out.  Now there were two days milk to pick up, and some farmers were already dumping milk down the drain for lack of room.  We had to try and get to the farms.  But it was trouble all day.  Roads were opened slowly by the plows but then quickly drifted shut again, driveways were plugged, the temperature was 20 below, and the wind was fierce.  Sometimes it would take as long to get two farmer’s milk picked up as it would normally take to pick up at all eight farms of an entire load.  Getting stuck meant hard shoveling in 70 below wind chill.  Everything was frozen and more difficult.  But we got the work done.  We got all the milk to the creamery that day in the ‘Blizzard of the Century.’  There was something very satisfying about that, and looking back on it now, I remember it as a good day.

     I remember another storm, this one a few years later while I was a student pastor in South Dakota.  This storm I do not remember so fondly.  I got caught in this storm late at night on a seldom traveled road that I was not familiar with.  There were few farm homes in that area, and in the blowing snow I could see not a single yard light in any direction.  I could not risk leaving my car.  It was far too cold, and I had no idea which way to go or how far I would have to walk.  But it was also dangerous to stay with the car.  I was stuck in a huge drift in the middle of the road on a curve.  With the poor visibility, I feared getting hit by another car or a snowplow.  After two hours of shoveling and praying that no other vehicles would be on the road, I did get out and made it the rest of the way home safely.  But that experience was not exhilarating.  It was just plain frightening.

     What was the difference?  In the first example, I knew I was going to make it.  It was cold and miserable and the snow was often deep.  But it was daylight, visibility was adequate, I knew the area, and there was always a farm in sight and within walking distance.  Even though I still had to struggle against the elements and suffer the cold, I knew that I was going to get home safe.  I would not freeze to death or get hit by a snowplow that could not see me.  It was still a difficult struggle all through the day, but I was without fear.

     In the South Dakota storm, the struggle was filled with uncertainty and fear.  For three hours I did not know whether or not I would live or die.  Leaving my car would put me in a life-threatening situation, but it was also dangerous to wait inside my vehicle, or, to be outside shoveling.  Anything I chose to do put me at risk, the outcome was unknown, and I had much to fear.

     To those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, the Gospel says, ‘You are going to make it!’  No matter how tough it gets, no matter how fierce the battle, no matter how miserable the path, no matter how long the struggle, you are going to make it to God’s home safely.  Not even death can change that.  “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s,” says Romans 14:8.  We can be assured of that.  The struggle will continue but the outcome is certain.  Jesus has won the battle for us and so we can live without fear.  Therefore, the struggle can be exhilarating and satisfying, like the day was for me hauling milk in that snowstorm.  We do not have to be crippled by fear, like I was on that remote South Dakota highway.  This can make all the difference for us.  We can live with courage and confidence, come what may, for God is with us in all things and at all times.  Jesus Christ has defeated death, has gone on ahead of us, and he has promised to bring us to himself.


Ephesians 6:11-12  —  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Romans 14:7-8  —  For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Revelation 21:3-4  —  I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  —Book of Common Prayer