Pastor’s Column

            That was some blizzard that blew and blew and blew and then blew some more as it passed through our area, wasn’t it! The actual event more than lived up to the hype trumpeted by the weather forecasters.
            What did you do during the blizzard? Undoubtedly, you made adjustments to your normal activities and schedule. Our household did. Our church did. For one of the few times in recent memory our services were cancelled!
            I also did some reflective thinking during the blizzard about the blizzard. Actually I thought about more than the blizzard, but the blizzard provided the context and the occasion for my reflections. I want to put before you three of those reflections.
            First, I was struck by the mighty power of God. For about 30 hours the entire east coast from Washington, D.C. to New York City was in the grip of Jonas the Blizzard! During those thirty hours it became increasingly clear how little power we humans have when push comes to shove. No longer were we the ones calling the shots and setting the agenda; it was Jonas the Blizzard who did the calling and setting!
            Schedules were changed all across the board. Professional sports games were postponed. Appointments for Saturday haircuts were cancelled. Over 5,500 airline flights never got off the ground. Dinner plans were laid aside. Broadway had no theaters open. Regular runs for Wawa coffee didn’t happen. Railroads ceased to operate. Some workers had to stay at their job site over the weekend to insure they were able to be present for their next shift.
            While the National Weather Service called the blizzard Jonas, in reality the blizzard was the finger of God, a not-so-subtle reminder of who has the power. That same power is present each day, but in all the normal ways to which we’ve already accommodated ourselves. Hence, we can be blind to His power. In Romans 1 we’re told that God’s invisible attributes – that is, His eternal power and divine nature – are seen through what has been made. Looking at the common course of nature on a normal day should be sufficient to see God’s power, but storms like Jonas are made by God to display His power to even the most obtuse human being.
            I encourage us all to reflect on the power of God. One day each person who has lived will stand before the living God. On that day each will see clearly all His great power. Some will find that It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. [Heb. 10:31]
            Second, I was reminded of our need for progressive sanctification. On that Saturday when Jonas was huffing and puffing and blowing snow everywhere I spent over five hours operating the snowblower. It was very effective with blowing the snow away. I made real progress. By 1:30 Saturday afternoon I had the entire driveway cleared and ready for traffic!
            Oh, there was one small problem: Jonas continued spewing out a couple of inches of fresh snow each hour! By four o’clock the snowblowing really needed to be done again. If you had looked at the driveway at eight o’clock that evening there were only a few places where you could tell that any snowblowing had been done at all!
            Isn’t that the way it is with sin? Think about your life since your conversion. When someone is converted, that new believer has a certain amount of accumulated behaviors and thought processes and heart affections that are contrary to the will and word of God. The Holy Spirit begins “snowblowing” through the new believer’s life, clearing out accumulated sinful habits, thought patterns, and wrong affections. One wishes it were a complete sweep, a once and done sort of thing. Such is not the case.
            That’s why we find repeated exhortations in the Bible to continue on in our walk with the Lord, not growing weary in well-doing, but pressing on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit works in our life to lead us ever more fully into the truth of God. He does that by dealing with all the residual sin our old man keeps throwing up. That old man in us is a constant sin-producing machine. He produces things we never had any idea were present in us! Here’s how Paul speaks of it in 2 Cor. 4:16, Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man [i.e. our old man] is decaying, yet our inner man [i.e. the new person we are in Christ] is being renewed day by day.
            I encourage each of us to be encouraged as the Holy Spirit continues to snowblow through our souls! We can be assured . . . the path of the righteous . . . shines brighter and brighter until the full day. [Prov. 4:18] Unlike me, the Holy Spirit does not stop working while the snow is blowing.
            Third, I found cause for great thanksgiving. It was such a comfort to have a warm, secure home in which to ride out the fury of Jonas the Blizzard. If I had to try and survive Jonas without a home to dwell in, I suspect I would perish. All during the time that Jonas was doing his worst, I could sleep securely without undue apprehension.
            That’s how it is for all who have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus. All kinds of storms and dangers threaten us, but we are secure in Christ. Yes, I know about that old man, but that’s not who I am. I am that new man in Christ! Christ has made me His own. He will not let me go. He will sustain me and keep me regardless of storms and trials that may come my way, whether from outside or from within.
            I encourage you, along with me, to rejoice with great thanksgiving that Jesus is our Good Shepherd! Hallelujah! He’s the One who says of His people: I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. [John 10:28] Because we’re in the hands of Jesus, we are no longer terrified to fall into the hands of the living God.
                                                                                                In the Joy of the Lord,
                                                                                                John H.C. Niederhaus