In the depths of a prairie winter I sometimes find it hard to see beauty. The landscape stands immobile in ice and snow. Even the air is thick with cold and hard to breath. I continue to function but long to give in to a desire to hibernate, pull in from the world and spend my days dreaming and sleeping. My spirit grows lethargic even while I yearn to plunge into God, yet cannot seem to rouse myself.
In the midst of this chill season comes a gift, a picture painted on a north-facing window of my house. Delicate frost flowers form on the outside of the glass; feathery plumes of ice crystals intertwined in a patch the size of my fist. I climb on the couch to study them up close. Then God speaks to me through this miniature miracle on my window.
He pushes aside the blanket of guilt muffling my heart for Him. Guilt layered up over days and weeks of spiritual lassitude, distraction and general coldness. This little patch of frost tells me He is still here, still tender towards me, still the lover of my fickle soul even when the passion I feel for Him pools lukewarm. With elaborate calligraphy He writes in ice a love poem to one far away, drawing me nearer to the warmth of His heart.
He whispers to me, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek.36:26 NIV) Yes, even in this living, breathing body I have harboured a heart of stone. Discontent has crept in, calcifying arteries and thickening blood which once flowed strong for Him. I was aware even while it was happening yet seemed helpless to stop it.
Now the ice on my window sparks a fire in my soul. My God has not changed, even while I drifted aimlessly. He has been waiting all this time for me to return from the far country where my wandering left me cold and detached. In the midst of winter in my soul a small flame ignites and begins to melt that which has been frozen for so long. The life of God moves within me and I rejoice that I am not beyond hope, whatever my emotions may say.
I discovered that imperfections, scratches and dust on the surface of glass influence the shape of crystals as frost forms. Once again God uses flaws to bring forth beauty. And He is doing that in me as well. I am grateful He never gives up on me, rather He takes the blemishes and failures and in His paradoxical way, uses them to create beauty and usefulness. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)
The frost flowers on my window are gone now but my heart is still warm, beating with the spirit of God who stooped to write a love letter to me in fragile ice.