Few of us made it through this past week without hearing of the “polar vortex” that brought a drop in thermometers to the northern part of the United States and Canada. For some, it froze soap bubbles. Others reported never seeing their town in such a blanket of white before. Still, others were glad that school wasn’t cancelled, a testimony to the hardy stock of their neighbors.
What impressed me the most with this year’s first big icy storm were some Niagara Falls photos, where our mild winters of recent years haven’t allowed something so stark and frozen for a long time. And the photos of a white wonderland where the Falls appear nearly frozen are a reminder of our journey of faith, where rarely does the Christian walk go in a linear fashion. Instead, like the polar vortices of the soul, the process of following Jesus requires a continual submitting to the unknown and uncontrolled.
As we journey forward in 2014 with hopes renewed—maybe this year I will lose those extra pounds, or go on this trip, or have that conversation with that certain someone…you know where you fit—may we remember that our journeys at times look like the Falls this past week. Having visited there in a balmy August some years back, I never would have imagined the area to look as desolate—and scary—as it did this past week. But it is still the same Niagara Falls. The same place where people have descended in a bucket, the same place where tightrope walker Nik Wallenda recently crossed on a highwire like many others before him, the same place where our jaws drop to the floor in awe.
The author of Hebrews reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Like the frozen falls of this past week, may we remember that the hiccups of life that come our way and cause us to question what is going on are not places for doubt. Instead, they are places for faith. It’s this faith that C.S. Lewis described as “the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” Neither mood nor Polar Vortex can change who Jesus is, and that is a great outlook at the beginning of any year.