Slow Down, Be Renewed

Here we were again in Austria for a short pre-Christmas break to relax and get in tune with each other and with the Lord before the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and all the kids and grandkids descended upon us. But our time in Austria had not gone as planned. It had been one frustration after another.

It started when Avis gave us a car with summer tires. Hey, it’s December! No surprise that didn’t work out well for us in the snow and ice. We weren’t able to make it up the icy hill to our chalet. We had no other choice than to carry our luggage, while slipping and sliding, up the ice-covered road. As we were unpacking and settling in, we soon discovered we had no Wi-Fi or internet connection. Zilch! Having forgone the expensive international plan for our notebook computers, we were limited to Wi-Fi. So much for streaming entertainment and keeping up with the news. (Obviously, we could do without the latter.) Our limited international data plan on our phones was—well, very limited!

Not a problem since we planned to spend lots of time outside, on the ski slopes and on winter snow hikes. But the weather wasn’t cooperating either. Cold, Icy. No fresh snow. Everything looked dirty. The ski slopes—like the roads—were sheets of ice—so we stayed in by the open fire.

We slept, wrote Christmas cards and occasionally very carefully took walks in the icy snow and lugged groceries up the hill to our chalet. Like it or not, God had slowed us down. To be honest, we didn’t like it.

On the last evening, would you believe it, started snowing. Really snowing. Fresh, lovely snow. Excited, we headed out for a night hike. We walked for an hour in the snow making a new path with each step we took. The new cover of snow illuminated the sky so we could see the peaceful village below, the farms on the rolling hills and the majestic Tyrolean Alps towering above us. Previously walking had been hard because of the ice, but with the new snow walking was effortless. Each step secure. No slipping or falling. Everything was beautiful.

With the softly falling snowflakes, God painted our world a beautiful white—seemingly just for us—no gaudy-colored Christmas tree lights nor Santas climbing chimneys; no commercials shouting “Buy me!”; no ringing phones, no internet to surf; just a quiet whisper, I brought you here to renew you—body and soul. And just as you’re glorying in this walk in the new snow, I want you to go into this new year with joy and anticipation of what I have planned for you. Walk toward the Light and I will be with you every step of the way.

Suddenly, all the frustrations of summer tires, cabin fever, ice and no Wi-Fi, were overshadowed by a realization that our Heavenly Father was renewing us—body and soul—and we could walk into the new year illuminated by His Light making a clear path for us follow. With a new sense of gratitude, we returned to our chalet to pack and prepare to head home the next morning.

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things,
but just look at what they can do when they stick together.