As I’m writing this morning (2/20/19), it is lightly snowing outside. The ground is covered. But, so far the snow is not falling hard enough to blanket the road in front of our house. Maybe the two hour delay in opening our schools was the right decision. Give those weather angels up in the wild gray yonder a shot at figuring out.
Perhaps you are like me— I’m tired of winter. I suspect winter makes us more weary than the other seasons.
Winter is cold. At times, it is dreary, painted in battleship gray. Often winter is wet for what seems like endless days. Winter can also be a tease.
For example, sixteen days ago I went for an afternoon run on February 4. The temperature was 66 degrees. We all know it’s not supposed to be 66 degrees in February in Richmond. A few days prior to the 66, we were in the grips of the polar vortex. Come on winter don’t tease like that!
On the afternoon of the 66 some people were taking advantage of the tease.
I saw a lady relaxed in a chair in her front yard, shades on, with her chair angled perfectly toward the sun. A few turtle steps later, a car came by me with its convertible top down, and kids riding bikes or shooting hoops were in shorts and t-shirts. Even I was running in shorts.
I guess teases like this are good. They give us hope. Hope that spring is out there somewhere.
Spring is about footwork. As we all know to get to spring, our footwork has to walk us through winter.
Recently, at the Tuckahoe YMCA, I was riding an upright stationary bike in a connecting foyer between the gym and a huge workout room packed with fitness equipment and people. Little did I know that I was about to see a lesson in footwork unfold in front of me.
The bike I ride is equipped with a viewing monitor, and the computer brains of this bike allow me to choose a location where I want to ride. I’ve ridden in Ireland, Paris, the Swiss Alps, and Sequoia. It is a cheap way to travel.
This morning, I went back to Sequoia. At one point, I glanced away from the screen and just a few feet in front of me a young man with a trainer showed up. The young man was dancing on his feet while shadow boxing. He was moving through this space like he was in a boxing ring, working every inch of the corridor bobbing and weaving with his nimble feet propelling him.
The trainer was coaching. He quietly directed commands toward his pupil. With his seasoned words, he offered corrections in his student’s upper body movements. And, the trainer carefully watched the young man’s footwork.
This was a brief, but enlightening distraction from the bike ride. The young man in a short span of time really worked hard.
Who knows, perhaps we need the unexpected intrusion of a spring like day in winter to distract us.
Maybe those intrusions lighten our footwork. Maybe our lighter footwork gives a bit of confidence. Maybe, we start to think, ok, I can count this down one day at a time. I can hang on— keep my footwork moving forward, and spring will arrive.
But those unexpected, warm intrusions in winter always give me pause. Silently, I wonder what lies ahead, winter isn’t over. I don’t trust it. Winter can still sting with a stiff north wind, that can rapidly drop temperatures, and rain in a blink can change to snow.
The same can be said for life. It too can change in a blink.
Recently, two friends have experienced a blink—the return of an unexpected, unwanted intruder—cancer.
Talk about a downer, I can’t imagine anything worse. If a human being survives one unbearable skirmish with cancer, he or she should be given immunity from any future encounters—period.
But, clearly, life does not work that way.
Makes me wonder, where is God’s footwork in this? I thought God should be able to out maneuver the devil’s footwork, especially when it comes to the repeat performance of cancer.
Well, there you go again Bill blaming God. I’m surprised God has kept you around for 65 years. Talk about footwork, you better keep an eye on yours.
You know you are right about my God blaming. I’m sure He is tired of me.
But, let’s be honest, I think we all have our God blaming moments.
And you know what God blaming really comes down to? It is trying to understand Him.
God what are you thinking? Where are you? How are you working on this?
Now, if I’m starting my second battle with cancer, I might really have a difficult time buying into Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
How can a second battle with cancer be a future with hope?
The only hope there is in cancer is if your footwork allows you to find the strength to punch it out of your body for a second time.
American writer, Dashiell Hammett once stated: “You got to look on the bright side, even if there ain’t one.”
I can find some bright sides to winter.
I love the unobstructed view of bare trees framed against thickened gray clouds. On a crisp, cold, clear day the rich blue sky is an endless daydream. After a cold night of rain, the breaking dawn air feels like it has been scrubbed and cleansed. And, the fading light of an almost full moon peek a booing through a cloud bank makes me stop and stare.
And I’m sorry, but I can’t find any bright side in the meanness of cancer, especially when it shows up for round two in my friends.
But, just as that trainer kept a helpful eye on the footwork of his boxing student, I must do the same for my two friends. My footwork needs to be a bright side for them.
And even though I don’t always understand God, and I’m sure he doesn’t understand me, I must trust his footwork. I need him to coach my footwork to support my friends.
My blaming Him will not help the footwork of my friends in their cancer battles.
They need me, they need you, and they need God.
Our footwork in life will face many challenges.
But, it seems in those difficult life moments, my footwork will have a better chance if I’m grounded to these words from Psalm 94:18:
When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, Oh Lord, held me up.