IVP - Strangely Dim - Snow, Snow, Snow

December 7, 2009

Snow, Snow, Snow

By Lisa Rieck

When I started typing the title of this post, I accidentally typed "Snot" first, which I suppose is appropriate, seeing as how it's often a by-product of snow. As is what I really want to talk about: cleaning off your car in the winter. It's one of my least favorite parts of winter. I've had to scrape the frost off a few times already this winter, but today was the first real snow: the first snow that covered the ground, and the first day I've had to brush snow off of my car. Thankfully for all us poor (in spirit and in money) car-brushers, it was a light snow (never mind all those kiddos out there hoping for some good packing snow), and brushed off easily. But I still didn't like doing it.

I'm realizing, though (this is what too much time in the cold brushing off your car will do), that cleaning off my car is a good metaphor for Advent. (Ha! Take that, Floridians. Your lack of snow is stunting your spirituality.) The metaphor is particularly apt for this second week of Advent, which, as Kimberlee Conway Ireton instructs us in The Circle of Seasons, is the week we're to focus on preparing ourselves for the Savior. She writes: "We as Christians are to be paying attention to God's presence in the world and preparing for Christ's return. . . . That is why we need Advent--it reminds us to pay attention, to be on guard, to keep watch that we might be ready for Christ when he comes again."

The concept of preparing for Christ's second coming has always felt a little vague to me. What does that look like, specifically, aside from the "normal" parts of following Christ? How, in other words, do I learn to be particularly attentive? What types of things should I pay attention to?

Turns out, I think preparing is a lot like scraping the snow and ice off of my car. It's getting rid of all that clouds my vision of myself and the world--all the distractions that keep me from thinking about the true state of my heart, all the temptations that keep me from following hard after Christ. And, to be honest, this spiritual clearing away is about as fun as standing out in the cold brushing snow off of your car. It's messy, and hard. But I'm convinced the only way we can truly grow is by being willing to let God search our heart and tell us what's there.

That's how I'm "celebrating" this week of Advent. I'm asking God to search my heart, to clear away all the pretty snow and show me the hard, cold truth underneath. It's humbling for sure, but I believe it will give me a clearer picture of myself, of God's grace and of myself in light of his grace.

Here's another way I'm celebrating Advent: by fasting from listening to music in my car while I'm driving. I'm trying to use that time to ponder Christ's coming (his first and second coming), and to reorient my thoughts according to Christ's ways, not the world's. Not listening to music does not, of course, mean I'm thinking about Christ. My thoughts still roam all over. I have to deliberately choose to pull my thoughts from the distractions and temptations--to scrape away the frost, if you will--to get to what's underneath my worry, my need to be "productive" (yes, even while driving), my self-absorption. It too is humbling and hard; I'm sad how difficult it is for me to focus my thoughts on Christ during a twenty-five-minute drive. But this effort, this trying, is one more way I can prepare myself for Christ's coming, one more way I can make myself more available for his work of spreading his kingdom on earth.

So, all you cold-weather friends who might be feeling a little unprepared for the coming of winter, let the scraping of frost remind you to prepare for Christ's coming. Brush the snow from your windows and eyes. Wave your ice scrapers in the air. Try not to complain too much. (And don't lick any metal poles, even if someone dares you to. You can never be warned too many times.)

Posted by Lisa Rieck at December 7, 2009 12:33 PM Bookmark and Share


Lisa, thank you for these thoughts. They're great. I have to say, though, that I'm thankful that I don't have to scrape my car windows every morning anymore! Even if I do have to change my boss's diapers. An even trade-off, I'd say. ;)

Comment by: Taryn at December 7, 2009 3:06 PM

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Comment by: dudchuk at December 26, 2009 5:44 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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