It is the middle of February.
It is the time of year when Winter says “Hold on, I have no intention of leaving anytime soon. Keep your hat on. And your mittens. And your really long scarf. Just because it’s raining and puddles brim deep at the end of the driveway in forty degrees, I’m keeping the landscape under the grip of snow and the rivers still slogging slow under thin ice for awhile.”
I am slogging too.
Slogging is that thing of working really hard….grinding it out.
Progressing at a slow and heavy pace is what one does in February.
Like the river across the field as it makes its way toward the Falls by the bridge, its moves so imperceptibly underneath a weight of white.
I, too, am moving forward.
I am slow, but I am sure.
February cold brings an arctic blast that blisters the skin and shivers the bones.
In the icy words.
In the the frosty glare.
In the sort of flinty resolve that stubbornly resolves to quit rather than persevere.
It blows the harsh wind reality that sometimes things just don’t work out.
Did Jesus, in His humanity, ever think, just once, that things might not work out?
Was it when Judas believed he knew better how this salvation plan should go down that he so willingly betrayed Him with the kiss of friendship?
Or maybe it was before that when His friends were in a sleep deep and He in a deep bloodsweat?
Or perhaps it was the time Peter demonstrated his loyaly to Him with his big fat mouth and a sword, then later when a girl connected the dots that he and Jesus hung out together all the time… he cut and ran…followed by the rest of the gang.
Its so easy to slide off the rails when people are involved.
Especially when disappointment comes and unmet expectations get in the way of thinking straight. Or you get the call another relationship has blown up. The times someone else is done with you and leaves.
When these things happen you do one of three things.
You think….whatever….and stay stuck in your cynicism.
You buy a new pair of boots.
I bought the boots.
I have a nice pair of black fur-lined boots, but they weren’t up to the slogging I needed to do during recess with my students. The boots I had were okay for moderate snowfall, but too low on the calf and not super waterproof for me to really get into with the kids.
I needed boots that would take me into the deep stuff.
I needed to be able to navigate a terrain that required lifting my legs up high just to go a few feet. I needed to be able to go where the kids were going. It was either that or stand on the sidelines and watch from a distance. My other option was to quit recess duty altogether because it was just too hard to stay involved.
Sometimes February can be the coldest month and it’s true, sometimes things really don’t work out.
Not everyone buys into what you’re trying to do.
Sometimes when you take a step forward you fall through the crust of disappointment that makes it feel like all the hard work you’re doing doesn’t matter.
Sometimes you get the snowball of criticism in the face.
So you have a decision to make.
You can put on the boots.
You can keep slogging.
You don’t give in to sideline living.
And you never, ever quit.
Jesus never quit.
Not a kiss, nor a sword, not a flattering promise, or an abandonment were enough to keep him from doing what He came to do.
He came to us and for us. He loved more than all the other loves. He poured his own sinless blood. He slogged it out.
For. every. single. human.
I put on my new boots yesterday and took a different route than I usually do on my walk about town. I followed the river to the Falls.
Here’s the thing about February.
She might tell us we need to keep our winter gear on for the next several weeks, but there is something she’s not saying. Underneath all that white stuff still blanketing ground?
Don’t give up.
You’ll leave footprints.