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The Beautiful Snow

Rev. Isaiah Reid

Copyright © 20071

Image of snow stained with soot, used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_butus“The soot from the chimneys
had flecked the whiteness…”

It came so softly, so silently, and free from wind or extra cold, that one did not know it was falling except as it was seen from the window, or one chanced to be on the street. It dusted everything with whiteness. Then it fringed and draped and robed every ungainly thing and the tiniest spear of grass, or dead and dried summer vine in the trellis, with ornament of purity. Then the air cooled and the clouds cleared, and the angels commissioned the northern breeze to pass high in the air, not touching a single spot on the beautiful picture, but showering from the upper air, as it passed through, millions of frost crystals to bedeck and bespangle this vesture of such wondrous whiteness. When the sun arose everything was glorified. The most common thing on the landscape seemed to have a voice and new significance. Even the remaining stalks of the summer’s beauteous blooms seemed more gorgeous than ever.

I went out to shovel the walks. But so soon the beauty was marred. The soot from the chimneys had flecked the whiteness and bespattered the crystals with blackness and defilement. The picture was spoiled. The vision faded. God might, but we could never, restore the scene. A little further, and I saw human feet had marred the beauty. How my heart sank a thousand fathoms as I thought how some feet had gone from the ways of innocency which they could never have back again, though forgiveness might be theirs. The snow was not so chill on my feet as was the thought on my heart. I tried to scrape off the smutty top from the snow and find the snow beneath unsullied. I could not. The shovel carried its marks there also. My picture was spoiled. I could not have it back. How it hurts us that our ideals can be marred beyond repair!

I thought of myself. How many thousand things I wished I had never done, nor heard, nor thought, nor learned! But they could not be undone, nor unsaid, nor unthought. My virgin, snow-white past, before the days of sin, could not be mine again with accompanying consciousness that it had never been otherwise. The Creator could, however, put that same defiled snow through nature’s great alembic3 laboratory and by divine process present it again “white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). And then I thought further. Grace eclipses nature. It must not only do what nature does, but more. It must abound. So the blood washes “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). Grace does what nature cannot. I may not know how this is done, but I can know that it is. I may not know how it is God “remembers no more” (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17) the defilement of His re-made snowflake, but He says it, and that is sufficient. I wish I were more like Him in this respect. You say you can forgive but cannot overlook some things. You understand me, then. Well, this we may each have in common. We may wish we could bring our forgetfulness up to our forgiveness. We do from the heart forgive, and then pity where we cannot forget. Yet all the while the heart cries in its secret chambers for its despoiled snowflake, and wears crepe4 for the loss of an old confidence.

Let us remember this: If I have been so hurt over the failure of one of my friends, and have suffered so much, and cried so much, how much must Jesus have suffered and cried over me?  Oh, Jesus, show me how to have mercy as I expect to find it! (Psalm 18:25; Matthew 5:7)5



  1. Annotations and other additions to the online, e-book, and print versions are Copyright © Jim Kerwin. Edited by Jim and Denise Kerwin.
  2. Image of snow stained with soot is copyright by and used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_butus.
  3. alembic: an apparatus used in Reid’s time for distillation
  4. wears crepe that is, wears black, as in mourning
  5. This article was written in February 1897 and first appeared in print in the periodical Christian Witness and Advocate of Bible Holiness, 4 March 1897, page 4.
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