The Ice Storm

It was the first storm of the season.

Up until this mid-January night, our quiet Southern Canada town had been experiencing a very mild winter. Or, as some might have called it, a long, cold fall! Our world had prepared itself for winter. The leaves had fallen at the proper time, leaving behind stark, drab forests of bare limbs and branches; the grass was yellowed and sparse; and the days were short and dreary. But for reasons unknown to us, winter weather hadn’t followed all of the world’s preparations.

That was all about to change.

Long before sun-up, the over-saturated heavens began drenching our world with driving rain. The temperatures began to fall, and it wasn’t long before the needle on my patio thermometer registered at the freezing point, 0º C. The weather conditions were perfect for freezing rain, and the precipitation soon began to freeze onto every surface it touched. We were in the midst of a major ice storm, the worst we had seen in years.

By mid-morning everything was burdened by the weight of the several millimeters of ice. It wasn’t long before the overloaded tree branches began to break, and many of these came down on top of the already overtaxed power lines. By 10:00 am three quarters of the town was without power.

Because of the city-wide power outages, street lights were not operating. City workers were out doing a fantastic job of sanding and salting the roads; nevertheless, driving through town took twice as long as it should have, due to the blocks of cars waiting for their turn to cross each and every intersection. The power outages also meant that sump pumps were not working and basements throughout the regions were in danger of becoming flooded.

The freezing rain subsided in the early afternoon, but as evening came on, the temperatures again began to plummet. By midnight the region was experiencing temperatures as low as –15º C. The millions of icicles clinging to every branch, every wire, every mailbox, every blade of grass, every roofline, and yes, to my windshield, all solidified, and as a result, it took me 15 minutes to clear enough ice to be able to drive. This, combined with the fact that all of the road surfaces now resembled skating rinks, lengthened my usual 20-minute homeward drive to nearly an hour.

The sun came out the next day, but the mercury refused to rise above –10º C. In fact, that was our “high temperature” for the next three days! Despite the cold, we couldn’t help but rejoice. The storm had turned our little town into a veritable winter wonderland. Perfect ice sculptures littered the scenery everywhere we looked. The contour of every tree, every blade of grass, even the ugliest weeds were all delicately etched in the ice, and as the sun shown through these natural works of exquisite beauty, they were transformed into halos of brilliant, white light.

It was the ice-covered limbs of what had just days before been dreary trees that especially drew my attention. In fact, walking through those forests of glowing ice was like walking through the gates of heaven itself. How could something as devastating and repulsive as that ice storm so completely transform the ugliness of winter into this elegant world, far too beautiful for words?

As I contemplated this, God spoke to me in a powerful way. I have been assaulted with trials over the past few weeks and it hasn’t been fun. But God in His mercy has been molding and remaking me through these tough circumstances, using the problems to reveal the flaws of deep-seated pride, selfishness, and unforgiveness in my character. It occurred to me that just as it had taken the violence of an ice storm to transform our dreary winter-world, God was using the violence of trouble to transform my dreary, sin-ridden soul. And just like the bare, brown trees were now works of art, I would also be transformed into a something beautiful.

Tears came to my eyes as I reflected on this. If it took painful trials to transform me from something repulsive into something beautiful, how could I do anything but thank God for allowing those trials to come my way?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-5 NIV)

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom 5:3-5 NIV)

Lyn Chaffart

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