It’s been a long time—nearly a month?—since I’ve been able to sit down and write. No, I really don’t have a good excuse. The best I can come up with is that in the middle of the crazy busy Christmas season, I gave myself permission to take a break and found that doing no writing whatsoever for this long has really made my writing skills rusty. It may take a few weeks for these fingers to regain their ability to communicate anything worthwhile, but we’ll see.
Winter is finally truly here. After much waiting, we have snow and cold and wind—and lots of all three! This past weekend, the snow was up to my knees. Taking a walk in the woods in good company with thick snowflakes falling steadily and clinging to my hair … not much on this earth can get better, I think.
I’m on quite a break now from school—university doesn’t pick up again until February 20! After two delightful and busy weeks of having my family here, it was nice last week to get out into the forest alone and spend time thinking and praying. Really truly, there’s nothing like being surrounded by God’s creation to get me thinking.
I saw this on one of my walks, and I was immediately struck by something: God made this. He made the snow fall, He made the forest, He made this bush—yes, He made all those things. But He also made this tiny little snow garland wrapped around this bush. How crazy is that? He’s that big, that sovereign, that creative! It’s entirely possible that I am the only person to have seen that. It’s entirely possible that the whole forest was full of such sights that no one saw, things that God created just because He likes to create beautiful things.
I’m so thankful for the church.
I read Luke 12 this morning and was struck by verses 22-31—
And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
I was especially struck by verse 26: “If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” I’ve always struggled with wanting to control things. I’ve wanted control of the future, control of how other people see me, control of other people’s reactions, relationships, etc. It took a lot for God to show me how I have absolutely no power over any of those things, and so I’m ashamed to admit that it’s still often a struggle for me. Even today, I finished reading those verses and not three hours later, I found myself getting anxious again about things I can’t control.
That’s where the church comes in. I met up with a lady from church this afternoon, and five minutes into our conversation, I was telling her about my fears. She took me straight back to the truth that I don’t hold the future—only God does. We had such an uplifting time; she encouraged me so much, and though much of our conversation involved serious topics, prayer requests, and encouragements, we also laughed—quite hard!—together.
Oh, and this afternoon? We spoke in French. Last Friday, I met up with the pastor’s wife for lunch (which turned into afternoon tea as well), and we joked, laughed, teased, told stories, and shared our struggles in French. What’s incredible to me about that is that the past three weeks, most of my time has been spent speaking English with anglophones. Before Christmas, I wondered if my conversational French would last. Weeks of pretty much only speaking English—what if I realised that I was only able to speak French because I was surrounded by it and being required to do homework in it? Turns out, French is more deeply rooted in my brain than that. Of course, a month without French, two months without French … I’d lose it eventually. I know that because I’ve felt how much my Spanish has slipped over the years. But not only am I glad to know that French is becoming easier for me to speak, I’m also absolutely positive that unlike with Spanish, I won’t stop keeping up my French. How do I know that? Well, I’ve made quite a lot of good friends here. My church here has become just that—my church, a family which I feel very much a part of. I’m excited for such a long break for many reasons, but one of which is that, with this extra time, I’m going to get out and see more of my Swiss friends. I’ll practice my French along the way of course, but more importantly, I’ll keep building these relationships. After all, I’m only here to bring God glory, to be satisfied in Him, to love Him, and to love people, starting with His people. Without that, my life wouldn’t make any sense.
I thought of this lovely Jon Foreman song because I find that many of the lyrics speak to Luke 12:
I look out the window:
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place.
I walk to the meadow
And stare at the flowers,
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day.
So why should I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need!
You know what I need!
Your love is strong!
The Kingdom of the Heavens
Is now advancing;
Invade my heart,
Invade this broken town.
The Kingdom of the Heavens
Is buried treasure;
Would you sell yourself
To buy the one you’ve found?
Am I willing to give God everything? It’s easy to be tripped up by other things—worry, fear, a desire to please people … all kinds of stuff can try to take the place that belongs to God in my heart. But He alone has rightful claim to my everything, because He created me. Thankfully, He’s put some amazing brothers and sisters in my life to keep reminding me how strong and how loving and how sovereign He is. And He’s blessed me with some beautiful surroundings! Really, it couldn’t be prettier here.
Now, as I listen to the late night wind howl, my eyes getting heavier and heavier, I know I need to get off to bed for some good rest. Tomorrow, it’s lunch with the pastor’s wife again, and hopefully the wind will leave us alone for long enough to get out and take a snowy walk together. After that, I’ll curl up in the warm apartment to watch Sherlock with my sister on the other end of a WhatsApp call.
Winter is finally here!