I live between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, and this week, we had an ice storm which took out the electricity in about 250,000 homes for at least two days. Some may still be out of power, three days later.
I never knew what an “ice storm” was before. I’ve lived here for 16 years, and never seen one. In fact, the thing I love about our part of the Northwest is that it’s a fairly mild climate. Yep, we get a lot of rain, and usually one or two small snow storms. So when it snowed about 5 inches last Wednesday, we weren’t that surprised. We’d had an exceptionally dry December which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
But then something happened that I couldn’t quite figure out. It began to rain, and as the rain hit the snow and everything else, it began to freeze. The top of the snow was shining with ice and everywhere it hit, it turned to ice. In the middle of the night, the electricity went out, and when we emerged the next morning, everything was coated with half an inch of ice.
When I worked up the courage to go out in my 4-wheel-drive SUV, I drove down the main road behind my house, and that was when I saw the devastation. Beautiful trees on every side were bending low with their burdens of ice; many had huge branches that had broken off and were scattered on the ground. Whole trees had fallen down over power lines, others were completely topped, their trunks broken about two-thirds of the way up. An entire tree had fallen across the road, but was high enough that I could drive underneath. Live power lines were strewn across the road. It looked like a war zone.
As I looked at the ice and how it had so completely humbled the trees, I was amazed. It didn’t seem like ice should be so heavy. As I was discussing it with my daughter, she said to me, “Mom, the ice is at least as heavy as the branch itself, and in some cases, twice as heavy. How would you feel if you were suddenly having to carry around twice your weight?”
The thing is, we often do that unwittingly. We’re going along, and small stresses begin to rain upon our lives. We don’t think much of it–they’re just raindrops–no big deal. We’re sure we can handle it on our own, and don’t take the time to go to the warmth of our Savior’s presence. So it gets colder, and the raindrops collect upon us. Before we know it, our spirits get heavier and heavier until we are completely encased in a thick coat of ice. Then, crrrrack! we break. And there’s always devastation of some kind. Sometimes we have a major health issue due to our stress. Or perhaps we say or do something to someone else to deeply hurt them.
My kids have been taking it upon themselves to tell me how short-tempered I am lately. I was telling them, prior to the storm, that the problem is, I don’t always know when I’m going to crack. Life will get on my nerves, but I think I can handle it. I’m a mom, for crying out loud. I’m supposed to be able to roll with the punches. But then one of the kids will say something rude to me, and I come back at them with the force of a hurricane. Words come out of my mouth that are absolutely not appropriate for any Christian to say.
And all because I don’t go to the Savior often enough, and warm myself in the light of His presence, and cast off the ice of my soul. We are all weary and heavy-laden. We just need to recognize it, and exchange our burden for His, because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
And by the way, one of the other things I noticed about this ice storm was how quickly the ice melted once the temperature began to rise again. Everywhere, ice was plummeting from branches. It was nearly impossible to walk beneath a tree and not get hit. At one point, I was sitting in a Starbucks and pile after pile of snow and ice plunged from the roof. It was as though the world was shaking off its burden and breathing out a collective, “Ahhhh.” Trees bowed down began to right themselves again.
So I decided to do that this morning. I took a burden that I’ve been carrying and handed it to Him. It’s clear I can’t do a thing about it, so why am I carrying it? It is His burden, His job, His purview.
Whew. What a relief. I feel lighter already.