An Icy Burden.

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Ice Close up

My two youngest children and I were walking at the edge of the forest a few days after our big ice storm here in Kentucky. It was still cold in the shadows, but the light from the sun was bright and warmed the skin. The temperature had risen continually throughout the day and a great melting of all the ice was rapidly reaching a peak of action and sound that you only get to experience once in a great while.

Like sandpipers chasing waves on a beach, we got as close to the trees as we dared, watching, listening and dodging the ice as it fell. We grabbed the tops of some of these trees, (that just a few days before were 20 or 30 feet in the air and were now bobbing at eye-level) and tugged, pushed and shook in an effort to get the ice to fall. The weight of the ice that these trees were bearing was amazing - much more than I expected. You could feel the large mass of the ice swinging heavily as we tried to push and pull the branches around. As the ice melted and loosened in the late afternoon sun, these tubes of ice would start to shatter or slide off of the branches.

The sound of the release of the ice would often start high-up in the doubled-over saplings, a sudden tinkling, like a sudden jarring of a wind chime made of glass. Those first few falling bits of ice would break-off an avalanche of ice on the branches below it and the simple tinkling would rise instantly in volume and complexity to a high and bright cymbal-like crash and “whoomp” as bushels of broken ice were dumped on the ground. The saplings would rebound instantly, their formerly ice-bound branches waving and clapping like hands together as the tremendous weight of the ice was shed.

I thought of the burden these trees were hanging on to and it reminded me of similar aspects about our lives as Christians and how we deal, or don’t deal, with sin in our lives.

I thought of the burden these trees were hanging on to and it reminded me of similar aspects about our lives as Christians and how we deal, or don’t deal, with sin in our lives.

…it brought to mind the ice itself and how it builds up.
The ice on the branches, like sin in our lives, does not form instantly, but accumulates bit by bit, drop by drop, quickly thickening. The thicker the ice gets on the branches, the larger the branch becomes and even more drops of rain collect, freeze and thicken. The problem worsens exponentially and the branches quickly begin to sag under the weight. Sin works in exactly the same fashion. Let a little sin into our life and soon other sins don’t look or seem as bad as they once did, and they just pile on, and on.

…it brought to mind the weight of the ice.
As we have seen recently, trees are obviously not designed to carry the enormous weight of a thick layer of ice. Neither are we as Christians designed or intended to shoulder the crushing weight of accumulated sin. Don’t let it accumulate! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Take it to the Cross, confess it and allow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to give you victory over whatever it might be.

Gal. 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

The ice that bends a tree over or that breaks off a limb is far heavier than it looks, even up close. The weight of sin and other burdens that Christians carry is often heavier than it appears to other Christians, it’s only when you get genuinely close to a brother or sister in Christ that you understand the true weight of their burden.

…it brought to mind how the tree sheds its ice.
Just as the ice on just a few branches is broken off, falls and starts knocking off the ice on the lower branches, so it is when a Christian gets victory over one particular sin. Getting victory over just one sin will strengthen our faith and allow us to deal with any other sins that exist and help us to resist new temptations as they present themselves. Soon the Christian is standing taller in the victory found only through faith in the completely effective blood of Christ.

Romans 6:13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

I noticed also that the inch of ice that encapsulated each branch was not melting as much from the sun acting on the outside of the ice, but rather the ice was melting quickly from the inside out. The sun shone through the ice as if it wasn’t there at all and was absorbed by the dark bark of the branches and the tubes of ice yielded and slid off the branches — God is just like this, He see’s past our icy build-up of sin and sees only the sacrifice of His Son — uses the Holy Spirit to remind us of this and turn our hearts to the Son. We should respond to this remembrance by shedding our sins like a ring dropping off a skeletal finger. (We are supposed to be dead - skeletal - to sin… when sin tries to cleave to our members, our flesh, our branches, it should not find it a hospitable place to set up a long-term lease.)

John 14:26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

As the Holy Ghost, that lives inside every believer, brings these things to our remembrance, like scripture, our salvation, past victories over sin and answers to prayers, the heart warms and the power of sin over our lives melts away. To God, our confessed sins are as transparent to Him as that sun shining though the ice and warming the body of the tree.

1 Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

I saw also that the sapling soon bounced back once the burden of the ice was lifted, while some of the older trees lost entire limbs in the same storm, still standing in most cases, but damaged badly and damaging whatever they stood over with their falling limbs. Deal with sin while you are as young and malleable as these saplings, the longer you wait to deal with sin in your life, the more damage you will do to yourself and those around and under you.

1 John 5:4-5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”

How vitally important it is to keep short accounts with God. As soon as we recognize some thing in our life as sin, we should ask for forgiveness for it and for victory over it before its weight starts to drag us down.


6 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Joel Simkus
Feb 5, 2009 11:34am [ 1 ]

Hello Doug,
Those are some really good analogies! One part of Romans 6 that I thought of while I read your thoughts was Romans 6:19 - “as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity…” Just like you said, one sin leads to another sin… and to another. What a good challenge for us to keep short accounts with our Father!

Lord bless,

Matt Allen
Feb 6, 2009 11:54am [ 2 ]

Excellent thoughts! I really like the idea of it melting from both sides—I noticed the same thing in this “shedding of icicles” but failed to make the analogy!

Feb 6, 2009 1:21pm [ 3 ]

Thank you both for your kind words. We serve a wonderful Saviour. His plan for helping us is as perfect as He is.

Betty Scheider
Feb 9, 2009 3:39pm [ 4 ]

Bro. Doug, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

John Allen
Feb 26, 2009 12:07am [ 5 ]

Chillingly true.

Wesley Maraman
May 25, 2009 1:23pm [ 6 ]

I like this! Very thought provoking.

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