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  • Writer's pictureRyne

Crunchy Snow

We stopped by the cemetery on Sunday afternoon to change out the Christmas flowers at Anders's grave. I took Elias out of his car seat, wriggled him into the red puffer coat that Anders once wore (literally, he only wore it once), and then got Linnea out of the car. Even though the temperature is nice for January, the slight wind was brisk as I helped Linnea zip her coat.


Off we went towards Anders's grave, about six rows of graves in from the road. I was carrying Elias and the flowers, trudging over brown grass and through hard, crunchy snow. After walking a little ways towards the grave, I turned and looked back to see Linnea standing on the top of a tiny patch of snow.


"Come on, Linnea," I called out to her as she stood frozen in the snow.


She took a step, plunged her foot through the thin layer of crunchy snow, and down to the ground. She then took a step with the other foot and made her way through the snow. In a lifetime of living in North Dakota, I've walked through this type of snow so many times that I don't even think about it. But for Linnea, it was a first - and the more time she spent in the snow, the more she enjoyed it.



There were five more drifts of snow between Linnea and me, and she slowly and deliberatively blazed her own trail towards me. I laid the flowers on the ground, and went back to her, grabbed her hand, and helped her to navigate the final drift of crunchy snow.


And then it hit me.


Many times in my life, I have done the very thing Linnea was doing. I am walking along in life, trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, but sometimes I look away from his steps, and I get stuck standing on the crunchy snow. Then I get distracted, and sometimes my next steps are not back towards the path that has been created for me.


Instead, I venture away from the path. I cautiously place one foot out to test the waters. Then I commit and step down through the icy surface. It feels good to break through, to step out on my own. So I do it again. I take another step, and then another. Like Linnea, as I venture out on my own, sometimes I get excited and enjoy the steps I am taking. Soon, I am nowhere near the path that Jesus forged for me.


What Linnea didn't notice on the way to the grave was that I made footprints through the snow ahead of the same path she was walking. But my steps are longer and more difficult for a nearly 3-year-old to navigate, much like the times when I have drifted away from the plan God has for my life when I can only see Jesus' footprints every once in a while.


But the path is always there for me, just like it was there for Linnea. When the path is too difficult to find, Jesus doesn't walk off and make me catch up; like any good father, Jesus comes back for me.


During his life on earth, Jesus told a parable of a son that left his father, squandered all of his money, and came back to his family to take the place of a servant. The son didn't expect his father to accept him and expected that his father would hate him.


But the father did the opposite. Luke 15 says, "20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate."


Back at the cemetery, Linnea, Elias, and I changed out the flowers. By this time, Linnea's hands and face were cold from the wind. I had a better plan for our return to the car. I took lots of smaller steps through the snow so that Linnea's could more easily follow the path I made for her.


Jesus does the same thing for us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus taught his disciples about the Holy Spirit, which would be sent to them when Jesus went to heaven. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." - John 14:26


When Linnea first stepped off the path and onto the crunchy snow, she didn't know what to do. But as I led her, she became more aware of what to look for. As I have walked closer to the path that God has for my life, I am more aware of God's leading in my life; the path's steps become closer, and the path becomes more clear, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

 

Thankfully for Rachel and me, our life experiences before Anders died had oriented our gaze to the path Jesus was leading us down. We each had been Christians for decades before January 2019. We had each ventured out from the path, pursuing things of this world at different times, only to have the Holy Spirit guide us towards who God created each of us to be.


When Anders died two years ago, it was clear to see the path God had for us. We knew as we walked through the valley of the shadow of death to keep our eyes on Jesus' footsteps. We prayed a lot, read the Bible, spent quality time with each other, and the footsteps of Jesus become even more clear.


There have been times in the past two years when we have ventured from the path. I spent months not being the leader I needed to be; I stopped spending time reading the Bible with Rachel. I have spent time distracting myself from the reality of our life by escaping through video games or YouTube. Most of all, I have walked away from the path that Jesus has laid before me by turning to frustration and disappointment and letting that impact the relationships I have with people closest to me.


But the more I read, the more I write, and the more I spend time listening to people that talk about Jesus, the more the path towards the life Jesus has for me becomes clear. The more time I spend in the Word, the more I feel the power of the Holy Spirit bringing to my mind the way that Jesus lived and the way that I should live too.


Today, I pray that if you are following in the footsteps of Jesus, you will keep pressing into who Jesus created you to be. If you know Jesus but can't see his footprints in the snow, get back into the Word, spend time in prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal which direction your next step should be.


If you don't know how even to find the path that Jesus walked, reach out! I love nothing more than sharing the truth of who Jesus Christ is, was, and forever will be.

 

* Follow along with my writing journey by following @RyneJungling on Instagram or Mission Anders on Facebook.

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