Friday, January 29, 2010

Specks of Grace


I can’t help but smile as I sit writing this in my kitchen, next to the furnace, with the curtain of the window wide open. The picture is completed by the steaming cup of mint green tea that sits on the table beside me and helps to keep me warm as the snow falls outside. Looking out the window, my eyes follow the tiny little specks of frost that are falling all around.

I just got back from the supermarket. A real, live supermarket. Normally, we do our grocery shopping at the bazaar where you are constantly being pushed and shoved and fighting to communicate without knowing the vendors language. Today, today was different. We went into a warm building, with shopping carts. We grabbed stuff off shelves and then proceeded to have them scanned at a register. I never really realized just how convenient grocery stores are. Anyways, we stocked up and enjoyed the Wal-Mart like store. You can get everything there and at a good price! It is just like Wal-Mart in that we got everything we need except fresh produce. Produce is best when you buy it from the guy on the street that picked it out of his garden earlier the same morning.

The snow is special today. As we were walking to and from the store I held out my hand and allowed all the little white flakes to fall gently onto the tightly woven strings of my gloves. As they landed I could see their little patterns. Some looked like stars and others like fancy crystals. I have never actually been able to see snowflakes before. I just saw nice looking white dust falling all around. It is so cliché to talk about God’s cleansing when you see the snow fall. Sometimes I just roll my eyes and think “Here we go again.” But today Psalm 51 went through my mind over and over. “Wash me white as snow and I will be made whole” are lyrics by John Foreman that are based on Psalm 51. It is a beautiful song that is on repeat as I write this and enjoy the powdering of the trees outside. Even though it is cliché, today it hit me in a very real way. Almaty is a wonderful city. You can find anything you want here and it will never fail to surprise you. However, like any large city, especially any city in a foreign country, there is a lot of pollution. The air above is usually a toxic gray and the sidewalks are covered with trash, dog poop, and other mysterious gross things. A week ago I was ready for the snow to be gone and to be able to walk on pavement again. I was ready for the cold to go away and planning a welcome party for spring. Earlier this week, it warmed up, the snow started melting and things were as I was hoping for. It was then that I actually saw the dirty roads. It was then that the filth of the crowded city was revealed. I quickly was praying for more snow, more clean-looking white powder to cover up the mess that lies beneath. Winter may be cold, but at least it’s clean. Sometimes we feel as though God’s cleansing is too cold. It requires us to choose Him instead of our earthly vices. Being without your vices can make you feel cold, but when the snow is falling it covers up the trash that we leave laying around. I don’t know about you, but I have some trash in my life. I’m not perfect. The sidewalks of my life are covered in cigarette butts and animal feces and that is only the beginning. So even though it might be slippery and it might feel cold, today I am praying that God covers up the messy city of my heart with a thick layer of His purity and His grace. As I looked at those beautifully crafted snowflakes that fell on my glove and admired the detail of creation, I was reminded that these are more than cold, white flakes. They are more than frozen droplets of water gliding to the ground; they are little specks of grace and they tickled my face all the way home.

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