Six feet of snow blanketed the yard. Standing at my full height, I could not see over the banks. My view was limited to tunnels of white walls and slippery earth beneath my feet. From the warmth inside the house, the view was beautiful--soft, white, fluffy billows that covered....everything. When the sun shone, it sparkled like diamonds on the frozen earth. Trees and shrubs wore coats of white. A perfect winter wonderland!
It was mid-afternoon when we ventured out to do some errands. The first steps in the snow were calculated but fun. Carefully we made our way to the car. As much as the snow was inviting, I wasn't particularly interested in landing on the ground in a heap. The roads were cleared by the unending work of the road crews, but driving was immediately a problem. Walls on either side of the road were so high, normal vision was impossible. A stop at a light or stop sign became a hazard because snow towered six feet in the air preventing normal visibility. Frigid temperatures seeped through layers of clothing and bit at the ends of my fingers and toes. The car windows frosted over as we traveled at a snail's pace to our destination.
As I drove, I realized too that I felt encumbered. Layer upon layer of clothing made it difficult to move in the car. Even looking over my shoulder to check behind me was almost impossible. Climbing in and out of the car was something akin to moving with lead weights on my limbs. My sunglasses fogged up immediately, making it hard to see...anything.
I helped my mother out of the car, cane and all, and wondered why we had thought it was a good idea to venture out. We stepped gingerly through the parking lot. Some snow was still icy and slippery, some was sloppy and dirty. No matter where we placed our feet, it wasn't pretty. My mother attached herself to a cart to steady her walk into the store only to find out that she couldn't push it through the snow.
By the time we did our shopping and got back home, we were both exhausted. Everything was so difficult. Hats and scarves and gloves and coats and sweaters and boots and extra socks required excess effort to navigate what should have been a simple trip to the grocery store.
Later in the evening, I thought about the difficulty of the day. Because there was six feet of snow on the ground and the temperature was below zero, it was simply impossible to do some of the very normal things that are everyday chores. Even when we did manage to accomplish the chores, the work was exhausting. My mind began to draw a picture of the weight of the world exhausting me. Fear, fatigue, worry, unkind words and thoughts, disappointments, broken dreams, failures, moments of disgrace are worn as garments to protect me from the cold bite of pain. These things, however, prevent me from experiencing the warmth of God's love for me. They act in many ways as barriers as real as the six foot walls of snow I had tried to navigate earlier in the day. They make it difficult to see, to make good decisions, to move freely, to check my surroundings or to walk with surety.
When I live in the freedom afforded me by God's love for me, I am no longer encumbered by those things that would be weights on my limbs and leave me exhausted. The warmth of God's love for me melts the frigid fear, brings life to the frozen path of my life and melts the walls of pain and disappointment. I can move freely, see without obstruction and my footing is sure.
"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you." Galatians 5:1. Lord, thank you for the freedom of your love. Thank you that I don't have to fear that you will not be enough for me. You love me fully and faithfully. "Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me." Melt my heart, unencumber my soul, cause me to see and know you in all of your gracious beauty.
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)