If you’ve ever lived anywhere that has accumulated even the smallest dusting of snow, you’ve had a parent or friend jokingly (or quite seriously) say “Don’t eat the yellow snow!” Having three boys and a dog myself, I know I’ve uttered these words more than my fair share even though we live in the balmy southeastern state of North Carolina.
Take recently, for instance. Not only did we experience snow while visiting our Michigan family for Christmas, but then we returned home to the biggest snow our hometown had experienced in quite some time. The boys were ecstatic, playing in it until they had their fill. And every time I looked out the window, I saw my 9-year-old son scooping up a hand full of snow and feasting on it like it was manna from heaven. In fact, I seem to remember that’s exactly what he called it. “Manna from heaven.” (He has a flare for dramatics.)
And every time, I would pop my head out the door and say, “Make sure you don’t eat the yellow snow!” Because let’s face it…between three boys and a dog, the chances of hitting a yellow patch are high.
It reminded me of a time when I was about his age, growing up on the Ohio/Michigan border where snow did not come in short supply. And much like him, I liked to eat snow. I think most kids do. In fact, I would take snow, put it in ziploc bags, and stick it in the freezer to snack on later. I don’t know where I thought that snow on the ground was going, but I guess I wanted to make sure I had plenty stocked up in case we had a warm spell.
When one day randomly, my dad called me to the freezer and pointed to my stash. Inside a couple of the bags nestled in the back of the freezer, we could clearly see a faint tinge of yellow staining the frozen snow.
“Have you been eating these?“ he asked, mildly amused.
I stood there in shock, trying to figure out how I could have possibly missed the yellow snow I had scooped into these bags. I thought I had been so careful, but maybe my mind wandered as it was prone to do. Then I began to wonder if I had somehow eaten some of that snow!
Wouldn’t I have tasted the difference?
What if I didn’t?
What if I had been eating yellow snow all along and didn’t realize it?
Whyyyy hadn’t I paid attention better?!?
And on and on it went until finally I noticed that my dad was more than amused and outright laughing. Come to find out, he had squirted lemon juice in the bags to play a trick on me. And well…obviously, it worked.
But that memory made me think.
There are many things in our everyday life that we love. People, places, activities, things. And like snow and eating snow, they are mostly good. But instead of blindly eating all of the snow, it is important that we pick up the snow, check it over, and then eat carefully making sure it doesn’t look or taste like something we shouldn’t be eating.
I could give many examples of each, but the one that currently stands out in my mind the most, and has given me pause, is people. To be honest, the past year has been extremely disheartening for me. There have been several leaders I have held in high regard, both Christian and political, who have said things and taken stands with which I strongly disagree. Initially, they rocked my world and made me question how I could have missed the “yellow snow” when I began to support their ministry or leadership.
Our knee-jerk reaction is typically to stop. Stop eating the snow. Stop making the snow cream. [Stop listening to what that person has to say.] Just simply stop.
However, just because we run into some yellow snow, does that mean all of the snow up until this point has been yellow? [Has everything that person said been garbage? Has everything I believed in been wrong? Is everything they say going forward heresy?] Human nature makes us think it has and is. Human nature makes us question whether we’ve been eating yellow snow all along but didn’t know it. Human nature makes us want to boycott snow completely!!
But the truth is that no beautiful field of freshly fallen snow will remain spotless, just like no human being will ever be perfect. No matter who we hold in high regard, we must always carefully sift through their words and actions and make sure they line up with the Word of God. Nobody is exempt from this. Nobody is so infallible that we can blindly follow without caution. The only authority in which we can confidently trust is the inerrant Word of God.
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6
So yes, this past year has been disappointing in many ways. And yes, I’ve questioned my own judgement as a result. But what I’ve come to realize is that maybe I haven’t been eating “yellow snow” all along. And maybe the things I learned from those people weren’t all garbage but actually good and helpful. The fact that I recognized the detour from the truth is important.
It is their responsibility as leaders to speak truth that lines up with God’s Word…and it is my responsibility as a Christian to feast with my eyes wide open so that I don’t swallow something that isn’t truth.
And at the end of the day, God is still on the throne.
Once I made that distinction, I realized I have more control over how these revelations affect me. It is still disappointing when respected people make mistakes. Nobody likes to see a leader stumble. But at least now I can see the “yellow snow” for what it is, toss it to the side, and keep on moving.
The devil would love nothing more than to ruin an effective person’s influence; and we can’t keep them from making mistakes. However, we can somewhat thwart his efforts by protecting ourselves from stumbling with them.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
So please…guard your heart, proceed with caution…and don’t eat the yellow snow.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105