In this blog series, Pastor Kevin Dixon shares his memories and lessons learned from growing up in Minnesota where winters are long and sometimes severe. So many of those life lessons are relevant to the COVID-19 crisis and “Safe at Home” way in which we find ourselves living now. This entry is the fifth in our series.

Winter was long in my Minnesota childhood. The season usually started in late October and went through April, lasting five or six months, depending on the year.

The town I lived in was about 15 miles away from Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. The water temperature in that lake seldom got above 45 degrees. In fact, the lake froze over in the winter. It was like living next to a giant ice cube when the wind was coming off the lake. The breeze could be bitter cold, even in August. 

It was not uncommon to get a storm in April with several inches of snow. Those days could steal your hope. Even June could have squalls of snow flurries if the conditions were just right along the lake. 

We found hope for the next season in the noticeable changes and respites along the way. It seemed every year for a week or so in February, God would send a thaw to remind us that winter isn’t forever. The snow would melt, and we could wear sweatshirts instead of parkas. 

Then, the days would grow longer, and birds would start returning. One of the significant indicators of winter losing its grip was when the ice receded from the lakeshore. We could actually fish from a boat rather than a hole in the ice. By that time, one more snowstorm didn’t matter. Spring was upon us.

In this way, the outside temperature didn’t determine the season. Instead, small signs of change gave us encouragement for what was to come. 

Even in the long cold of winter, there was a very real sense of the presence of God. Jesus promised his followers right before he ascended into heaven “I will always be with you.”

Matthew 28:20b says it:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We find ourselves now in a different kind of winter. Instead of cold and darkness keeping us inside, a virus keeps us quarantined. So, we look for hope in two things: First and most important, our ever-present God. And, second, small signs of the changes to come.

If you see God, you will find hope. He is our respite, even in the middle of a long winter. 

And if you are looking, you can see the signs of the changing season. They may be as fleeting as the first robin, the new buds on a tree, or a crazy teenager water skiing on a half-frozen lake.

Where has God given you a respite in this season?

Where do you see the signs of the change?

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