Joan C. Benson, Christian Author, Speaker, & Educator

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Winter

Joan C. Benson

Photo by Becky McMillen, Baldwin, KS

The beauty of a new snowfall carried sweet remembrances that winter evening. It was so tantalizing that I couldn’t wait to pull on boots and warm gear just to experience the magic outside my window. White puffs of delicate intricacy fell on my head, shoulders, and ultimately, my feet, creating virgin footprints in the yet untouched snow. Everything in sight was transformed to a pristine state of perfection. Just hours before the drab of winter browns and grays dominated the landscape. The ugliness was made new.

As a child, I remembered the excitement of making the first footprints, first sled tracks, or even shoveling the first paths on the sidewalks or driveways. The reward of hot cocoa, and perhaps a just-baked cookie, was often part of the expectation after we’d broken into the frosty scene to our heart’s delight. Even without a fireplace, we could gather around the oven, warming our numbed fingers and toes as we waited expectantly for mother to finish the cocoa.

Winter in the Midwest also reminded me of chilly thrills and spills. There was the joy of riding our steel runner wooden sleds down steep hills and even streets in our small town. As a youngster, I would gleefully jump onto the back of my father at the top of the hill near our home. It seemed like “forever” to the bottom of the gentle slope beside my home, every inch of the way filled with excitement. Dad steered the handles upfront, and I clung to his broad shoulders, screaming for effect as we hit unexpected bumps along the way. Though I knew we might take a tumble, I had ultimate trust in the outcome as I held on to my dad, the one I believed could make all of life go well.

As an adult, I pulled the sleds of my own little ones and as they grew, we sledded any hills we could find when the snow fell. I wanted my children to have the same fond memories I did of winter. We became a skiing family, and that passion infused a new interest in the wintry cold. My feet ached, my fingers froze, and yet, to stand at the top of a mountain range in the Colorado Rockies was worth every discomfort ever experienced. The Creation of God before my eyes was breathtaking, and skiing was an adventurous way to be a part of such beauty.

Over time, despite its beauty, I also learned how harsh and barren winter can be. The cold season brings punishing winds, stinging cold, and danger to wildlife as well as humans who are ill-prepared. Winter can be hard to endure, and seemingly endless some years. I personally find candles and fireplaces comforting with their glowing warmth and esthetic beauty. People use various ways to cope with the restrictive boundaries of winter — remedies for relieving the itch of cabin fever or simply “snow weariness” in the dark days.

Reflecting on a deeper, analogical meaning of “season,” poets and writers have often alluded to the stages of human life. Admittedly, my years of “spring” have passed, those exciting years when everything continues to bloom and flourish in beauty and energy. Those were years of my youth in which mortal life appeared unending, full of promise and expectation, eyes on the next milestone. In the summer, I remained strong, able, and healthy with the promise of more good things to come. In the fall of life, my pace slowed, my children had grown, and I looked forward to their promises of new life and growth. Their milestones became mine vicariously. I knew my “winter” was to come, but I didn’t really ponder it. There were still plenty of projects to accomplish, friends to see, and life to live! If I let myself think about it, the final chapter of life on earth did seem not as far in the future as I once believed.

When my parents passed into eternity, I had the opportunity of holding their hands in those final moments. I stood beside my mother, realizing that I was suddenly the matriarch of the family. I felt instantly orphaned. At that moment, I could not avoid the sight of my own mortality. How many more years would I have, and how should they be spent? How would my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, direct my paths? Would I obey and follow? What purposes would my life serve, however many days, months, or years were left? Was there some significance to this winter season? Was I to glory in pleasureful activities with more freedom to play? Or was there more to this end game?

The good news is that our Creator God has provided purpose for His children in every single “season” of life, from conception to the grave — or to the arms of God in heaven.  I have learned that as long as we have breath to breathe, we have life to live. If there are physical limitations, God has provided (the potential for) spiritual wisdom, which is an even greater gift. In seeking answers for this query of how to live joyfully in the “winter of life,” my eyes were opened to a fresh perspective. Just as we began, we should end. Jesus told us the greatest commandment in the Law:” Matthew 22:37. “… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

These words of Christ are so simple, and yet so profound. If we walk in those great commandments, we can find peace and significance of purpose that I believe all human hearts yearn to know. Undeniably, I have lived through many seasons, but I have discovered that God is my source of strength, courage, peace and all spiritual blessings … through it all, even in the unpleasant and painful trials we encounter on Earth.

I have a choice though! We all have a choice. God was purposeful in His creation, making certain that we could choose to love Him and follow His plans, or not. It’s called Free Will. Father God did not make His creation in such a way that they would be forced to walk according to His Divine Plans. What Father would want puppet children, forced into relationship like slaves? But, He promises to cover our sins like the beauty of new fallen snow when we make that choice to walk with Him.

As for me, I choose to walk in faith until He calls me home to Heaven, Eternal Life, in the presence of the One who created it all. I invite you to find that same assurance, purpose, and peace by accepting His free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Invite Him to be the Lord of your life. If you are unsure how to accomplish this, talk to someone who is a Follower, or send a note here on the Blog and I will respond personally. By giving God the reigns of your life in exchange for a loving relationship with the Lord of all Creation, you will have everything you need for a life of blessing and purpose through even the winter of life.

Originally Published at https://bensonjj.blog/2019/01/23/winter/ on .
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