Where To Go With All Of This

February 17, 2010 | 32 comments

I look out the dining-room window as he makes another sweep through the driveway with the tractor. He’s been out there all day pushing snow in our driveway, and his mother’s driveway, and out by the hog barns.

But it keeps blowing back in, stubborn as it is in this wind.

The sun is dropping low, orange-tinting our white world, and he’s turned on the tractor lights.

It will be a while yet, so I turn the oven dial low.

This is what my favorite farmer harvests during one of the snowiest winters in Iowa history.

He opens the garage door, and shakes winter onto the rug.

“I dumped 100 bucket-loads out there,” says the rosy-cheeked farmer with fogged-over eyeglasses. “And that was just tonight.”

“If it keeps snowing, I don’t know where I’m going to go with it all. We’ve run out of room.”

***

And I see my sin like that. Stacked up in piles, pushed to the sides, just far enough so I can pass through the tunnel on my way to somewhere else. But it sits there still, bucket-load upon bucket-load of sin.

And I say to God: “Where do I go with all of this? I’ve run out of room.”

And He beckons me: Bring it to the cross.

***

It’s Ash Wednesday. As a community of Christ followers, we begin our 40 days of repentance and prayer and fasting.

We do this year-round, too.

We repent, daily. For we sin, daily.
We pray, hourly. Because we need Him, every hour. Oh Lord, I need Thee every hour.

But on this day, our repentance and prayer is more of a focused march toward Easter, toward a cross, toward an empty tomb and toward the hope found in forgiveness. For forty days, I bow ever lower, ever more aware of my daily need for a Savior …

I look out the window at piles of snow — like white ash that blows. And I remember that I, too, am dust.

Where do I go with all of it, Lord? Where do I take all this sin? How is it that you can look upon me and all this wretchedness that is in me? I am — all at once — both saint and sinner. A mess in my flesh, holy only through Christ.

O my God, where do I go with all of this sin,
with all of my two-faced heart?

And He answers in His Word:

“Yet even now, says the Lord,
Return to me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
Rend your hearts and not your clothing.”
— Joel 2:12-13

We begin again with the Son who thaws cold hearts …

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp at Holy Experience as we explore spiritual practices that draw us nearer to God’s heart. This walk she asks us to consider this: Sinners Repenting.

by | February 17, 2010 | 32 comments

32 Comments

  1. mom2six

    Jennifer – As always your words capture my heart. I feel the lump in my throat. Your pictures are amazing also. Thank you, thank you.

    Reply
  2. Monica Sharman

    And there, it all melts away.

    Reply
  3. Billy Coffey

    I can certainly sympathize, both with the snow and the sin. Beautiful post, Jennifer. And beautiful pictures, too.

    Reply
  4. Coffee With Marty

    Very nicely written! I live in Iowa too, and I find myself blogging about the snow often.

    I know what it feels like to simply push the sin away, and you did a great job of explaining God's mercy.

    "Bring it to the cross."

    I will be remembering.

    Reply
  5. jasonS

    Great post and I love those pictures…

    Reply
  6. togetherforgood

    This is a beautiful picture. I'm in Iowa too, though not in the country. Our driveway gets narrower and narrower . . . I love the metaphor you have found in the snow.

    Reply
  7. Candace Jean July 16

    Thank you for a new perspective on our perpetual Iowa snow. Anticipate He will flood us with His mercies in May. Your land is so beautiful.

    Reply
  8. Warren Baldwin

    Jennifer,
    I know you guys must be getting tired of the snow, but it is so beautiful. I grew up in Vermont where we had snow like that and I miss it sometimes. We have some here in Kansas, but not like that.

    Great application with sin. Even if we could move our sin with a bucket loader you are right, we would run out of room!

    Thanks for your recent visit to and comment on the blog about my daughters 1/2 marathon last year. It was a great experience for the girls and for Cheryl and me. I left there determined to run a 1/2 marathon. Started training right away and then, well, lost sight of my goal. I still want to run one. I hope your 1/2 marathon goes very well. I'm sure you'll post about it?

    Reply
  9. Andrea

    urgent prayer request and prayer button on arise 2 write.
    andrea

    Reply
  10. Rose

    Amen, warmed as only the SON can do it. Beautiful blog and beautiful pictures!

    Reply
  11. Lisa notes...

    Beautiful words and beautiful pictures. Yes, "bring it to the cross." Thanks for blessing me today.

    Reply
  12. keLi

    Great post. Oh how I feel those 100 bucket loads of sin — usually, before breakfast.

    Reply
  13. Epiphany

    I love your words as always, but I really want to mention how AMAZING your photo's always are. You have such a talent – have you thought about taking that talent further? Professionally? It is such a blessing to have that talent.

    Reply
  14. RCUBEs

    The pictures are amazing! But so is the post! And thanks be to God, those sins He took away! God bless.

    Reply
  15. Sharlyn Guthrie

    Piles of snow -what a perfect analogy to mounting sin, and what a convicting post. Wonderfully written and illustrated with your beautiful pictures. I am an Iowan, too. It has been quite a winter here!

    Reply
  16. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    You had me at picture #3 and then you had to go and post #4 on me!

    And the analogy to our cold hearts–woman!

    This one made me think of Psalm 139"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I go from your presence…"

    Sending love,
    Wendy

    Reply
  17. Runner Mom

    Jennifer, this was so powerful! I just got home from our Ash Wed. service. It was special, but your post pulled it all together. Thank you sweet friend. And the pictures are simply gorgeous! Stay warm!
    Hugs!
    Susan

    Reply
  18. Arianne

    What beautiful pics! That sun reflects The Son and His glory that shines on around us. The heat melts our sin away to water the soil below for new growth to sprout. God is truly everywhere if we just look and listen for those quiets thoughts and visuals!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  19. lynnrush

    Fantastic!

    Reply
  20. Craig Finnestad

    Beautiful words and beautiful pictures.

    Reply
  21. Shirl

    First of all, being an avid photographer, these photos are drop-dead gorgeous!!!

    And made even better with such a beautiful message!

    Reply
  22. Angie Vik

    Thanks for the inspiring thoughts. In our town the snow is dumped in a ravine. We were standing on the edge of the ravine last week and Keith said if the snow wasn't there, we'd be standing on air. That's a massive amount of snow. I appreciated your wonderful analogy.

    Suppose I don't need to tell you how muddy things will be when all your snow melts. 🙂 You'll have to come up with another analogy for that.

    Reply
  23. Kay @ Off the Beaten Path

    And then He makes me even whiter than the beautiful snow in your lovely pictures. Thanks for the Ash Wednesday message.

    Reply
  24. annkroeker

    Sigh.

    So beautiful…and deep (both the snow and your thoughts).

    Reply
  25. lori

    Jennifer…
    I dropped by to say hello and thank you for your comment that you left at the Cafe…WOW…I've been ABUNDANTLY blessed! I've sat, lingered, laughed, and even teared up…what a PLACE you have here!
    What can I say besides, "spring hurry! and it's so nice to "meetcha!"

    peace,
    lori

    (IF you ever feel led, head over to the Cafe and send us something…your words are beautiful and transparent…)

    Reply
  26. S. Etole

    The Son changes everything doesn't He … the light and shadows you caught are graphic

    Reply
  27. Chris Godfredsen

    Blessed, as always. I happen to check this Thurs. p.m. as I have been delayed in leaving for one our favorite Christian encounters in the Hills by water in my basement – the work of the Enemy as snow begins to melt and run into my basement.

    I can't help but look at the beauty of those photos and realize the pile upon pile of sin in my life! The thing about those images, and the allure of sin – is that is can sometimes look so good, so appealing. But when it heats up – both snow and sin – the results are messy. Muddy, grimy, wet – messy.

    Know what I mean?

    Taking my sin to the cross all weekend long as I serve with the other guys – but uncertain about what to do with my own snow piles!

    Reply
  28. Chris Godfredsen

    Blessed, as always. I happen to check this Thurs. p.m. as I have been delayed in leaving for one our favorite Christian encounters in the Hills by water in my basement – the work of the Enemy as snow begins to melt and run into my basement.

    I can't help but look at the beauty of those photos and realize the pile upon pile of sin in my life! The thing about those images, and the allure of sin – is that is can sometimes look so good, so appealing. But when it heats up – both snow and sin – the results are messy. Muddy, grimy, wet – messy.

    Know what I mean?

    Taking my sin to the cross all weekend long as I serve with the other guys – but uncertain about what to do with my own snow piles!

    Reply
  29. hope42day

    And like the purity of newly fallen snow, our sin is wiped clean by His Love. Blessings during this most Holy of times…

    Reply
  30. Nell

    Incredible! Words. Photo's. Blog name. You!

    Nell

    Reply
  31. Jennifer

    I "really" read that passage in Joel last year for the first time, and it's become one of my favorites. Celebrating Lent with you.

    Reply
  32. ~*Michelle*~

    I have told you before…..so forgive my repetitiveness…..

    but you have such a gift, Jennifer. You can capture such abundant Truth in a few simple, yet powerful words and a snapshot.

    Reply

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