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Of Snow and Lions

One of the most curious details included in the Bible, in my opinion, is in 2 Samuel 23:20. In a list of David's Mighty Men, we find Benaiah, who "struck down Moab's two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion." Killing a lion is surely a noteworthy feat; killing one at close quarters in a pit, even more so. But why "on a snowy day"? Just because snow was rare? Lions don't hunt in winter weather? I don't know! (Personally, if I want lions and snow, I prefer The Chronicles of Narnia.)

Our forecast winter weather has me thinking about snow, and that brought me to Benaiah's story. What do we do in the snow? Not hunt lions. We sled, make snowmen, have snowball fights, and get a day off school. We admire the elegance of a snow-covered landscape, a stark gray-and-white beauty known only in the harshness of the cold winter months. The landscape transforms into something totally alien from what we know, devoid of grass and leaves, instead a simple barren whiteness.

As my favorite poet writes in "Ode to the West Wind," however, "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" I like that question. Even in the severity of a snow-ridden season, we know spring will come in just a few short months. Sunlight returns, and with it warmth and life. We can tolerate winter because of our sure knowledge spring isn't far behind.

As the season, so the soul. Even in our darkest winters of the soul, we know spring will come. The Son shines on, and his light and love are enough to end even the iciest of winters. After all, he's not the Lion of the Tribe of Judah for nothing -- and he is not a tame lion, but he is good.

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