Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Line in the Snow

Originally Posted on Ashley Denton's Outdoor Leadership Blog

Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop (truth), and I will be clean; wash me (grace), and I will be whiter than snow.

I smell the presence of snow. Tiny crystals of water float loosely in heavy crisp air. Each breath refreshes and soothes the cavities of my nose with moisture. The maturing fall season triggers a conditioned reflex response. I salivate for my first turns on untracked pristine white snow. I recall previous years trudging up steep mountains after the first major storm, long before the ski area opens, to surf pillows of Champagne powder.

A sense of “pureness” pours out of every crevice of my soul: pure worship of the marvelous creator and pure obedience to His laws of physics. I strategically flex my ankles, bend my knees and press my hips over the front curved edge of the board expertly applying the greatest amount of pressure from the weight of my body. As that turn apexes I purposefully retract my hips, extend my knees and release my ankles to begin new movements over the back edge of the board.

The result … a single line etched in the snow.

In human terms, we often understand purity to be the absence of something dirty. In our efforts we strive to purge our hearts and minds of wrongful thinking and hurtful behaviors. I have come to learn “sin management” is like removing the dust off the clay ground. It’s still dirt.

In contrast, consider how the Spirit overshadows (Luke 1:35) a person as when pure white snow blankets a muddy landscape. The delicate luminous crystals overcome the dust and mire to envelop everything in a shimmer of brilliancy.

We can parallel our obedience to the laws of God taught perfectly by Jesus to this imagery. We aren’t to strive for perfection in purity but submit regularly to being overshadowed with the presence of a PURE matchless God.

By His divine power, He gives us everything we need for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through His Son, the Word made flesh (1 Peter 1:3, John 1:14). Pursuing a fullness of His goodness leaves no room for impure cravings, impure thoughts, impure behaviors, or impure motivations (Ephesians 4:13).

Like newborn babies, crave PURE spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3

Many blistery cold mornings, while visitors to the ski area sipped coffee by the fire, I attended early snowboard instructor training sessions. Occasionally, I was given the privilege to drop-in on a line of fresh untracked powder. We called them “milk runs.” Without all the work of climbing the mountain for myself, I settled in to a “fresh sesh” of untracked “pow.” These moments were thrilling moments of “Wheee!”

Today, as a mother of two living in the Sonoran desert of Arizona, my days of early morning “drop-ins” are limited. I can however still experience the same thrill as I surf the pages of my Bible. God’s living Word never fails to pour out a fresh glass of cold refreshing spiritual food for my soul.

Got milk?

Without the all-consuming presence of a holy God, I’m left to trudge in the mire of mud season always waiting for the first snow to come.

Personal Application
Consider how you approach purity in your life. Do you participate in the practice of removing the “dust from the dirt,” a.k.a. sin management? Or, do you ask God to deliver an outpouring of His pure power, love and revelation? Use this acrostic to gauge the fullness of Christ in your life. Be honest. Circle the answer which best describes your intimacy with Jesus.  

P – With PRAISE and thanksgiving, you (hourly, daily, weekly, or occasionally) ask the Lord to give you a PURE heart through His Word and His grace. -- Psalm 51:7
U – You seek and search for the Lord your God with an UNCOMPROMISING determination to find Him when (an urgent problem arises or to simply fill your heart and soul with His goodness). -- Deuteronomy 4:29

R – You REMAIN in a state of expectancy to experience the close intimate contact of Jesus (when you want Him to give you something, when you want Him to deliver you from something or because you don’t want to make a move without Him). -- John 15:5

I – You make every effort to IMPERSONATE Christ by becoming a servant like Him (when you’re reminded to, when it doesn’t require sacrifice, or all the time) instead of mimicking or ascribing to worldly idols (Philippians 2:1-18).  

T – You practice the discipline of taking captive every impulse to THINK on all things true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (when people are watching or when I’m alone). – 1 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:8

Y – You acknowledge the YETZER Hara or natural inclination of your heart is to seek selfish gain rather than the beauty of Christ’s love. In complete recognition of your depravity you in humility (always, sometimes, almost never) lay down your self-seeking comfort and pleasure, selfish ambition and vein conceit for the benefit of another. – 2 Chronicles 16:9a, 1 Chronicles 28:9, 1 John 3:16  

Outdoor Leadership Application
Consider how you will lead a backcountry snowboard or ski outing to drop-in on a patch of pristine “pow” to promote a proper understanding of purity. Be sure to bring this acrostic with you so your group can move toward receiving a “white-out” of God’s blessing.