Treasures of the Snow

     It creates a lot of work, makes travel difficult and dangerous at times, but it also results in a beautiful landscape and limitless possibilities of recreation, including skiing, sledding, tubing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snow forts and snowball fights and building snowmen.  I speak, of course, of the amazing phenomenon that comes with winter in the northern climates–snow.  We got about 18” over the past week and spent many hours shoveling and snowblowing (we have a long driveway!).  But the sun came out on Saturday and it was so beautiful–a “winter wonderland.” Yesterday we trudged through deep snow to get a Christmas tree and boughs for decorating.

     In God’s first speech to Job He asks Job many questions about His creation which Job cannot answer to emphasize to him his inability to be a competent judge of the works and ways of God. One of his questions was: “Have you entered the storehouses (treasures) of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail” (Job 38:22)? 

     God spoke similar words to Isaiah, saying: ” ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it’ ” (Isa. 55:8-11)

     In God’s wondrous design for the earth, He created the hydrological cycle in which water evaporates from oceans, rivers and lakes and rises into the atmosphere  as gaseous water vapor which sometimes we see as clouds. In the winter, as the temperature drops to 0 degrees Centigrade (32 deg. F),  molecules of water vapor condense onto particles of dust or pollen. These tiny crystals collide with other molecules of water vapor which adhere and turn straight from a gas to solid crystal, adding to the size and weight of the ” baby” ice crystal, becoming snowflakes which become heavy enough to fall to the ground.  Snowflakes that descend through moist air that is slightly warmer than 32 deg. F, melt around the edges and stick together with others to produce much bigger flakes. Snowflakes vary from 3/8 inch to 2 inches in diameter. 

     Because of the way in which snowflakes form in the atmosphere, of the trillions that fall upon the earth each winter, no two are alike!   The ice crystals are typically hexagonal (six-sided), but with both some smooth and some jagged edges. The jagged edges attract more water molecules than the smooth parts , resulting in “arms” or “branches” to the snowflake. Although all snowflakes are made up of the same Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms, it is almost impossible for two snowflakes to form their complicated designs in exactly the same way. Scientists say there are more possible designs of a snowflake than there are atoms in the universe!  Each tiny, unique snowflake is a testament to our awesome Creator. 

     The Bible makes reference to snow some 24 times and many of these speak of the “whiteness” of the snow and use it as a picture of how God cleanses us from the ugliness of sin. In David’s confession of his sin, He prayed: “Purify me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7). God’s invitation to the people of Judah who had turned from God to serving idols, was: “Come now and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isa. 1:18). 

     In God’s omniscience He designed snow such that when visible light–which is white–strikes snow crystals, almost all of the visible light is reflected back.  Most natural materials absorb some sunlight, which gives them their color.  Clean snow, however, reflects nearly all of the visible light, resulting in a very white appearance. However, snow and ice may also appear blue.  As light waves travel into snow or ice over a distance of three feet or more, some red light is absorbed and the photons emerging from the snow tend to be blue. The snow or ice acts like a filter, filtering out the red.  

     You have probably noticed how snow crunches or squeaks when you drive or walk on it when it is very cold outside.  As we drive or step on the tiny ice crystals, we compress them, causing them to rub against each other, creating friction. The lower the temperature, the greater the friction, causing the crunching or squeaking noise.  At higher temperatures, the grains of ice slide and produce little or no noise. 

     Part of God’s wise design of the winter snow was to create a “snowpack” in the mountains which provides for moisture the next spring and summer as it slowly melts and fills the creeks and rivers and lakes and oceans, where again some evaporates and the water vapor enters the atmosphere to start the cycle all over. (Isa. 55:10).

      If you happen to live, as we do, where you have the privilege of experiencing the “treasures of the snow,” be reminded that God supplies it to provide moisture for our trees and crops. It is part of His omniscient design. And it is a reminder that we can have our sins washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  And, of course, for those of us who enjoy it, it provides lots of fun recreation.  For those of you who don’t enjoy a northern winter and all the snow, spring is always just around the corner!  That’s part of God’s design too!

Forever His,

Pastor Dave

P.S.  Speaking of “Treasures of the Snow,” you would enjoy the book by that title by Patricia St. John. The story is set in Switzerland just after WWII and speaks of the need for forgiveness–both of others and of yourself. It explores love, hatred, death, disability, repentance, self-sacrifice, forgiveness and self-sacrifice.  It would be enjoyed by your whole family. 

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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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