Sunday 8 February 2009

Footprints in the snow

footprints in the snow

The thought that only the best of what we are will be remembered is outlandish and over the top, yet that is exactly what God promises. In Isaiah chapter 43 God reminds his people how precious they are to him. The text brims with the close intimacy of God's loving companionship. And because it is written in this way the passage overflows with a profoundly restorative vision of a people with a hopeful future. And key to all this is memory, or more precisely the setting aside of bad memories.

God encourages us to dare to believe that our past need not be a blemish on our present.

I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing;  now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

The picture I have is of a heavy winter snowfall cloaking the ground. A set of deep footprints criss-cross this once pristine whiteness. The imprint of someone's weight and chosen direction is obvious.

What if the snowfall represents the gift of recollection and forgiveness and the offer of a fresh start? The enveloping snow then transforms our present perception. It slows us down, makes us take care and watch where we put our feet.  The all-too apparent evidence of former mistakes, our hidden shame and public regret, all these are revealed in memory as though they were footprints in the snow. The snow can never again return to its unbroken perfection. The footprints cannot be unmade. The snowfall of memory in the icy chill of winter: we look, remember and ponder; and we wonder when it will ever melt. This is the sense I have of Isaiah 43.

God then invites us to believe that hurtful and harming memory may yet melt away like footprints in the snow. The  warmth of God's grace and the light of God's love transforms the deeply imprinted snowbound patterns of our wounds, grudges, resentments and pain. It will all melt. The snow will be gone. Colour will return, detail will be revealed and the green shoots of fresh growth will truly become  apparent once more.

God blankets our outlook with the healing gift of snow. God says look at all the patterns you have made in it. And having looked and recollected, we then watch as the snow melts away completely. It is gone. Disappeared for ever. This snowfall and all our footprints just melted away in the gracious light and warmth of divine love. And we walk without fear. And we run joyfully. We are filled with the exuberant energy of the thaw. We are then truly ready for God's 'new thing'.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you David. This is helpful to me to remember that our sins are forgiven. It cannot change the past, but it can change our future.