I was at a weekly staff meeting on January 6th. I live in upstate New York, near Buffalo. The winter here isn't as as bad as its reputation, but on this particular day it looked just like winter in Buffalo is reputed to look.
We have devotions and prayers before our business meeting. We present devotions on a rotating schedule. On that day, it was our pastor's turn. He chose to read from Psalm 74. He focused on 74:9--
We are given no miraculous signs;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.
He taught us that the psalm was written after the temple had been burned to the ground by the Babylonians. He said that the psalm expressed "the winter of our faith."
Those of you who have recently been reading Ezekiel know that miraculous signs had ceased when the visible glory departed from the Temple; that no prophets were left because they were exiled, with the people, to foreign lands. God was gone, his prophets were gone: there was no one left who could tell them how long this would go on.
Bringing his teaching to its conclusion, Pastor Kevin directed our attention to 74:12--
Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
Then he asked the others at the table for their thoughts and reflections. But I didn't hear the rest. My eyes were out the window where winter was waiting, working.
Whenever you start wishing that autumn could skip right over winter to spring, turn to Psalm 74:12. If Psalm 74 represents the winter of faith, verse 12 is the reason for the season. In their forsaken desolation, through their forsaken desolation, God was working.
After devotions we prayed about various things. After prayer a discussion about the office telephone system went on for quite some time. My eyes were still out the window and my head, on its own, started silently singing a song from long ago. Just as a dream combines seemingly disparate elements, the song brought Jesus and winter and telephones and prayer and fire and ruins and Psalm 74 together:
Been walking my mind to an easy time,
my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows
it'll turn your head around
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line
to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground
Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again.
According to three trustworthy sources-- Asaph (who wrote Psalm 74), James Taylor, and Pastor Kevin Robbins--it may be that God makes inroads to a heart during its winter. It may be that there's no other way, no other day, to work salvation there.
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around.