I was recently in search of a gift for a friend. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I had two criteria that I was hoping to meet.
1. It had to be appropriate for the Christmas Season.
2. It had to be theologically significant.
I felt that either of these criteria would be easy to meet, but combining the two seemed perhaps a little daunting. Within a few minutes I found a beautiful set of snowflake earrings, and thought to myself that the first criteria was certainly met, and that the second criteria, though lacking, was present.
I then set out to find a good quote, poem, song, whatever about snowflakes to include with the present. As I searched, I was woefully disappointed at the lack of theologically significant statements about snowflakes, and as I searched, my own understanding was opened to how truly neat these little creations of God are, and how much they tell us. It led to my own prose about the snowflake, shared at the end of this article.
For your edification and encouragement this Christmas, I’d like to give you some lessons from the snowflake.
Fresh snow is the epitome of whiteness, it covers every scar, every blemish, every mark on the landscape. Ray Comfort uses a great analogy of the purity of snow by stating that a white sheep in a green field looks brilliant, but a white sheep in a snowy field is revealed to be a dingy and imperfect grey. Similarly, if we compare ourselves to anything other than God and his revealed law, we can make ourselves look quite good, but compared to the perfection of God, our impurity is revealed.
Therefore snow shows us two things about God, first that we are imperfect, but gloriously it shows us also that we may be washed, covered, and all of our blemishes erased and purified by the work of Jesus Christ. God said so in Isaiah 1:18,
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:And revealed in Revelation 7:14,
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.
“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”Beauty
Wilson A. Bentley is renowned for his work in snowflake photography. In his lifetime he captured 5,000 snowflake images long before digital cameras or digital microscopes were invented. He captured the beauty of snowflakes far better than I ever could,
I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design…When we look to the stars we see beautiful designs, in our everyday life we see beautiful sunsets and landscapes, and when we look at the minutia of the snowflake we see that God is a master craftsman, working on every scale, and creating and recreating beauty that mankind can only dream of replicating. And while I know of no verse that succinctly captures this thought, it is surely found in many biblical themes, and consider that God does it on grand scales every day, he asked Job 38:22,
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?Complexity
At first glance, a snowflake looks rather unassuming, but as Bentley found, they are miracles of design. Each one has an architecture, a symmetry, a purpose, and a means for growth. They are tiny miracles full of intricacy that take far more than a glance to appreciate.
Likewise God is a God of intricacy, we see it in mankind, in creation from the largest star to the smallest snowflake, and especially in the Word of God. A seemingly simple passage of scripture contains more depth than all of the writings of men. Above all, the intricacy of the Creator himself must be considered; one of the reasons Heaven will last forever is because we will need an eternity to plumb the depths of our infinite God.
Proverbs 25:3 states that the heart of men has the heavens for height and the earth for depth, how-much more then is the complexity of God.
Wilson A. Bentley postulated that no two snowflakes were alike. I remember reading a study which mathematically estimated the number of people required to have a physically identical person, and while I can’t find the study, the number was in the hundreds of Trillions. Snowflakes are less complex than human beings, so it is entirely plausible that two identical flakes have fallen, but they are so unique that the chances of you or I ever seeing a duplicate flake is impossible. Bentley looked at 5000 flakes and didn’t even come close. Recent scientists have catalogued between 35 and 41 individual types of snowflake, each made up of multiple quintillion molecules (that’s 1000000000000000000 molecules) each of which has exponential possibilities in uniqueness.
For their beauty and complexity, God still manages to make each individual snowflake unique in its own ways. No two galaxies, no two stars, no two people, no two snowflakes are exactly alike, God is the God of incredible imagination and creativity. And he made you and I.
For you formed my inward parts;Resplendence
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
- Psalm 139:13
Resplendence is my favorite word. It is the act of shining. The snowflake falling in the dark has lost much of its purpose and glory. Yes, it still does many things that are glorious, but it fails to refract light, it fails to shine, and its glory is diminished.
It mirrors much of the purpose of man. Mankind is meant to reflect its Creator. Unlike snowflakes, we are created in his image and his likeness. Our primary purpose in life is to show the world Jesus, to be resplendent in his grace, to shine his power, forgiveness, justice, and love, and to make him known. A person living in the dark, outside of his light, has lost much of their purpose and glory.
The snowflake reminds us to reflect the Light of the world, and because of his work in us, he will be glorified in us and through us.
At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. – Ephesians 5:8(And related, another snow verse, the coolness of snow is refreshing when much work is required, which Proverbs 25:13 equates to the refreshing nature of a faithful messenger. Be a faithful messenger publishing his mercy to the world.)
Finally, beloved, the snowflake reminds us that we live a short and doomed existence. The largest snowflake on record measured over a foot in diameter, yet there is no picture of it, for it melted before a camera could be found. Every snowflake that has ever fallen will melt someday, just as we all have an appointment with death.
Your lifespan, in your eyes, is a bit longer than a snowflake's, however in God’s eyes and the grand scheme of things your life is equated to a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). You are terminal, you have an expiration date, and you have an appointment with Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Drought and heat snatch away the snow;Conclusion and Invitation
so does Hell those who have sinned. - Job 24:19
But beloved, God has provided a remedy, he has defeated death, cleansed sinners, covered them, and recreated them. He sent his own Son from Heaven, he created for him a body to inhabit, he set him as the standard of purity. In him was life, and the life was the light of men, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus of Nazareth was not just reflecting the light, he was the light. And yet when the world saw his light, they did not know him, and they loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. But in his great love, he willingly went to a cross to face the just condemnation that sinners deserved, he substituted himself and faced the penalty of death though he had never sinned. He laid down his life that others may live, and then he took it back up again, the Lamb slain to wash men in his blood.
Pray with David,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7And God will hear you and we will rejoice with Paul,
You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.And then we will reflect his light,
– 1 Corinthians 6:11
…Proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:10Beloved, you were created to demonstrate that God is powerful, creative, pure, a Saviour, and capable of recreating mankind to show his glory. You only have one life, and it will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last.
Finally, if you have been washed in the blood, then encourage someone today that they are worth far more than snowflakes, and that you appreciate them and the work God is doing in them. Below is the poem I wrote to my friend, feel free to use some or all of it to bless someone else. Above all, tell them of the soul cleansing blood that was shed on Calvary.
I thank God for you,
For your Purity
For your Beauty
For your Complexity
For your Uniqueness
For your Resplendence
For driving us together
I have fallen for you.