We interrupt this regularly scheduled study of Deuteronomy to bring you this news flash, IT IS SNOWING IN PHENIX CITY, AL. We are experiencing an all out blizzard. It is coming down in…well, in flakes. The table tops are covered. The sidewalks have a dusting. The city looks to be shut down. It is expected there will be nearly a half inch of accumulation. It is snowmageddon. I hope we make it out alive. All schools and city offices are closed. We are having a SNOW DAY.
SNOW DAYS have to be the world’s best example of modern day grace. Holidays, Spring Break, summer vacation; they are all on the calendar and we have them coming to us. In some way we earn the right to be out of school or off work on those days. But snow days, that’s an entirely different story. Snow days seem like free passes. They weren’t planned for. We did nothing to merit them. Kids sit eagerly in front of the TV set the night before and wait to see their county scroll across the bottom of the screen. (My daughter-in-law does that too.) When our county shows up, HOORAY, a free day off. SNOW DAY!
Well, since we have the day off, let’s take a day off from Deuteronomy too. We have been reading a chapter a day in Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and in Corinthians. Yesterday we read Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and I Corinthians 16. Today we read chapter 17 of Deuteronomy and Proverbs, but II Corinthians 1. (There are only 16 chapters in 1 Corinthians. You’ll figure it out.) Now, I have to tell you that the first 5 or 6 chapters of II Corinthians are some of my favorite. I love real and Paul is as real as it gets in those chapters. So, in honor of the SNOW DAY, why don’t we get our history lesson from there.
Most of what Paul wrote in the New Testament, he wrote to churches. Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, all churches. In many cases, they were churches that he had started in one of his missionary journeys, and now he is writing back to them to help them with some problem or to share some new understanding. Corinthians is no exception.
Paul wrote a lot to Corinthians, maybe as many as 4 letters. We only have 2 of them and some think II Corinthians is actually made up of parts of more than one letter. They wrote back at least once, referenced in I Corinthians 7:1. All that letter writing back and forth, it seems that the church at Corinth was one that Paul loved, and loved to hate, and hated to love.
There is a lot of tough stuff going on there. (Read I Corinthians 5) They are not particularly fond of him. (II Corinthians 2) There is a lot of arguing going on, (I Corinthians 1) And the people in the church are even sure if Paul is a true apostle. (II Corinthians 3) Yet in the middle of all of that, Paul offers over and over again some real SNOW DAY grace.
Right in the middle of some argument or some real problem solving, Paul will throw in some word of comfort and encouragement that just seems so unexpected and undeserved. Look at this. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4) Or this, “All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory.” (verse 20) II Corinthians is full of those surprising moments when Paul, right in the middle of describing his pain, or frustration, or hurt, just goes off expressing how good God is to show up, and show out, in the midst of our sufferings. Listen to II Corinthians 4:8-10, which I am SURE we will look at again, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” That’s a snow day right there.
Listen, life is hard. Leonard Sweet says, “Life is full of an awful lot of moments and a lot of awful moments.” There are troubles and trials, disappointments and drudgery, battles and boredom. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck forever between Christmas vacation and Spring Break with no end in sight. We just need a little reprieve. And about that time, God throws us a SNOW DAY. I hear a song on the radio. A friend takes me to lunch and we talk about Jesus. I read a passage in the Bible but this time it blesses me like never before. Tomorrow I may be back in the thick of it, trying to keep my head above water but today, I am relaxing in His presence.
It’s like a snow day. School is still out there. I still have to go to class and take my tests and do PE. But today, I get a pass. Don’t have to go in. HOORAY again. It is right there for me. All I have to do is accept it. Now I could still get up. Put on my clothes. Go sit in the empty classroom and do my duty. But really all I need to do is say, “Snow Day. I’m off the hook.” That is grace, SNOW DAY grace.
You might be going through some battles. Maybe your marriage is not what you want it to be. Maybe there is more month than money and you’re trying to stretch the paycheck. Maybe the doctor’s news was little scary and you were hoping for something better. (JM) Hey, you know what God is giving you today? A SNOW DAY. Take a break from the worrying. Put the anxious thoughts behind you. He loves you like crazy. He delights in you with singing. And He is saying, “I’m giving you a day off that you didn’t expect. Enjoy it on me.”
And here’s the really cool news, while we are taking the day off, He is hard at work fixing our thing anyway. He has got you covered and when you get back to school, He will have done all of your home work for you. Well, that might be a stretch. but He is working everything out for your good. (Romans 8:28.) So take a break. Drink some hot chocolate. Go make a snow angel. Or just stay in your PJ’s and watch Matlock reruns all day. But know this, “He is the source of ALL COMFORT. He comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.” And, “All God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding AMEN.” That’s a SNOW DAY in the middle of the problem you are facing. And it is just for you.
(This is especially for JM, my hero!)