Outside the air temperature is below freezing. It has snowed, is currently snowing and more snow is expected. The roads on our estate our snowbound, icy and treacherous. Beyond the village even gritted surfaces struggle to keep the roads safe. Whether you are driving on the highway or walking along the pavement, grip is everything. Without good grip there is a real danger for motorists of losing traction or skidding out of control. And even shod with a good pair of hiking boots venturing out can be perilous for pedestrians when black ice is about.
The photo shows boot prints and tyre tacks of cars and bikes imprinted into the first, light snowfall. The degree of good grip is evident. No slipping or sliding here. The reading from Isaiah set for this Sunday seems to me to be similarly concerned with getting a grip, but this time on the reality of God. Or perhaps it is more accurate to speak of being gripped by the real presence of God amidst the threats and hazards of wintry life. Blizzards of misfortune can blow in unexpectedly on freezing winds of circumstance and spiritual black ice is an ever present danger underfoot. All too easily that which is stable, well-balanced, secure and taken for granted can be threatened.
Trust enables us to get a grip on God. Trusting that what the extracts from Isaiah 43 hold to be true is indeed true in the present moment. Then we get a grip on the divine reality below the surface of snowbound appearances. Then we get traction in our life of faith and a secure footing beneath us. What this feels like – the experience of getting a grip on God – is not something to withold, neither is our personal testimony to the benefits of an all-weather faith. Such at-traction is surely attractive in our slippery-slidey winter world?