Snow is in the forecast today and it will be mild compared to my memories of The Blizzard of 1978 when snow accumulated three feet high atop roofs in my Chicago neighborhood. My awning collapsed. Chilly temperatures dipped and the whirling wind whipped across my face like single-edged razors.
I learned to drive in extreme weather conditions on the streets of Chicago. That blizzard year, I drove my mint green Chevy Malibu confidently even though I had to be pushed out of roadside snow banks by kind, strong, men more times than I like to admit.
A snow memory that surfaces during that storm is when I met up with Joanne, my first mentor in my newly found faith.
It took me thirty minutes to drive to Joanne’s house, even though she lived only a few miles from me. I arrived safely and trudged through big pockets of white fluffy snow with my knee-high boots. When I got to her front door, she quickly scooped up my little baby, bundled in her carrier, freeing me to balance the diaper bag and other goodies I packed. Talk about a hassle.
I relaxed with Joanne in her living room and we discussed things like the bucket catching the leak in the ceiling caved in by the heavy snow as well as her iffy insurance policy.
I originally met Joanne at church. A mid-week outreach program headlined Joanne as a key speaker. After the presentation I approached her offering accolades for a job well done. She invited me over to her house and a weekly ritual of coffee and coaching developed. Joanne attended a Christian college majoring in Counseling and helped me, as a new student of the Bible, not only learn Christian principles but how to serve God.
As I visited her on that dismal Chicago winter day, we sat in her living room discussing Scripture and sipping coffee. Joanne quoted James 1:1-4:
Dear Brothers and sisters,
When troubles of any kind come your way,
Consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
Your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow,
For when your endurance is fully developed,
You will be perfect and complete,
She asked me: “What do you do when troubles come?” I answered sheepishly: “I complain. It’s hard to be happy when things go wrong!” Joanne told me the secret to finding joy in the mishaps: Thank God for all of it!
Her solution was absurd, but I listened. “Let’s practice,” She advised. “Let’s thank God for the snow.” I felt like a lunatic especially when I glanced up at her dripping ceiling, but I followed her lead. There we sat, thanking God for the crippling snow.
Little did I know way back then that her instruction would open the door to victory in facing any situation because thankfulness allows God to enter in, take control, and hold back the forces of Hell for the sake of maturing His people.
I look out my window and think to myself that the snow flurries dancing to the ground today will never compare to that winter of 1978 when over 250 inches fell of white fluff causing pain, hardship and delays. However, I will never forget the golden morsel of truth in the midst of it: Thankfulness!
Thirty-eight years later, thankfulness still holds true. Only now I don’t feel so much like a lunatic.