It came gradually. More gentle drizzle than downpour. Beautiful to watch, really. Problem was... it was so cold, and before we knew it, that gentle mist had coated our world in sheets of ice. And suddenly, without us even noticing, those everyday roads we travel and paths we walk? Danger zones. Traffic slows to a crawl or goes spinning off into ditches (take your pick). School is canceled. We are stuck. A full weekend stuck in our apartment. And maybe if Texans knew about proper shoes and salting roads and chains on tires and not using the brakes this wouldn't ring true, but we don't, so the ice imprisons us.
And yeah, it really is like bondage, like pain and brokenness, like hopelessness. It creeps in slow and coats cold and hard until you are stuck. Just stuck. And we find ways to cope. Curl up on the couch under a blanket. Crank up the heat. But there is only so much Netflix you can watch before you really want out. We long for freedom. We can try to get comfortable, but at the end of the day it's freedom we want. It's freedom we need.
And as I'm driving home from work today I can see only glimpses of the ice-bondage that was. Just a few slippery patches left in the shadows, but for the most part life is back to normal. And I'm finding the Truth of Advent. Pain, bondage, danger, these are all too real. There is an enemy whose aim is to destroy us all. But it is only an ice prison. Strong enough to hold and cold enough to sting, yes. But Light comes down and breaks through and the cold cannot stand and the ice must melt and the darkness must flee before the One who came to save.
And I know. I know in the middle of it all it seems trite to say pain and bondage will just melt away. But listen to the deeper heartbeat of Truth and find rest: the pain is real enough to bind you up and knock you down and wrap its cold hands hard around the throat of Hope leaving you gasping for air. But God (those two miraculous words) sent the Son and the Light and He's real enough. Real as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Real enough for you to hold, and to hold you close and pick you up and melt the grip of pain to restore your Hope and heal your heart.
It is a profound truth that, slowly but surely, pain melts into memory and the Son lives eternally. The darkness is real, but it's really not that strong. They are only ice prisons. Lord, help our unbelief.