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December 21, the 1st day of winter ,

the shortest day of the year,

and  J&J’s birthday.

Twins – so much alike yet so different,

just like snowflakes –

Found this very interesting blog at Pastor’s Pen and hope he doesn’t care if I repost it –

    The Snowflake Man, Wilson Bentley was 15 when his mother gave him a microscope. It was snowing on his birthday, so he used his new microscope to look at a snowflake. In the fleeting moment before it melted he glimpsed its six points and the intricacies of its patterns. That day excited a passion that never subsided. During the next 50 years, Wilson Bentley took over 5,000 pictures of snowflakes.     In all his photographs of snowflakes Bentley never found two alike. In fact, he was the first to recognize and catalog this fact. Bentley said, “Every crystal was a masterpiece of design; no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”     Wilson Bentley photographed over 5,000 snowflakes and found no two identical. Understand this, there are 5,000 snowflakes in just a swipe of snow, and 10 million to a cup. There are 18 million snowflakes in a single cubic foot of snow — and not one of them is like another. The chances of two snowflakes being exactly alike are about one in a million trillion.     This is the first lesson you can learn this afternoon from a snowflake. You are unique! Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God himself intentionally made each of us who we are. There’s not anybody in the world like you. There never has been, and there never will be. The same God that calls the snow from his storehouse and insures each individual flake, trillions an hour, is uniquely formed – he crafted you in your mother’s womb. He made you uniquely you! If you were to search the whole world, you wouldn’t find two people who had the same footprint or fingerprint or voice print. God fashioned you and formed you and he made you perfect according to his plan and purpose for your life.     You, as a person, are the combination of many seemingly random things. Not only are your fingerprints, voiceprints, footprints, even the design of the iris of your eye, completely unique. You are further made an individual by other factors. You are the compilation of DNA gathered from both your mother and father. DNA that was further impacted by your grandparents and great grandparents, on down the line. Your personality and character are the compilation of all of your life experiences. Everything that has happened to you along the way. Your education, your work, your skills, your talents, they all combine together to make a completely unique you.     This leads us to the second lesson to be learned form a snowflake. What stunned and motivated Bentley to study snow was the tremendous balance of order and recklessness. Whatever their pattern and variety, all snow crystals are six-sided. This fact had intrigued the German astronomer Johannes Kepler. In 1610 Kepler wrote a book called The Six-Cornered Snowflake. Why, asks Kepler in his little treatise, do snowflakes fall as six-cornered starlets? There must be a cause, he asserts, for if it happens by chance, then why don’t snowflakes fall with five corners or with seven? At the end of his little book, Kepler confesses his ignorance and leaves the problem of the snowflake’s symmetry to future generations of natural philosophers.     The riddle of the snowflake has since been partly solved. Physicists have traced the snowflake’s six-sided secret down into the heart of matter, to the form of the water molecule, and, ultimately, to the laws of atomic bonding that give the water molecule its shape. Water is a combination of an atom of oxygen linked with two atoms of hydrogen in a regular hexagonal lattice. That forms the foundation for the shape of a snowflake. But their growth as crystals has an element of randomness that gives them their individuality.     Snowflakes look stable but at the atomic level they are a frenzy of activity, as the water shifts and electronic bonds between molecules are made and broken a million times a second. Faults in the crystal jump from place to place and are repaired. “And somehow,” he says, “in the midst of this atomic chaos, the snowflake acquires and retains an ordered form.” The snowflake is one of nature’s most profound mysteries. Beauty and structure arise from a delicate balance of order and disorder.     This is the second lesson you can learn from a snowflake this afternoon. Your life may seem to be the compilation of random chance but there is a divine order to the events and happenings of your life. All of these external forces that have shaped and formed you – while they may seem random – were divinely orchestrated to order your life according to God’s purpose. God has a plan for you. You were shaped for a purpose! You’re not here by accident. God made you for a reason.     You were designed by God, and it was his idea to make you. It’s not a mistake. You were planned before birth. The Lord told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” The Bible clearly teaches that you were purposefully and personally planned and designed by God. His loving hand made you exactly the way you are. Your uniqueness is what God wants you to offer to the world. God designed you to minister to hurting world. Your experiences, the seemingly random events of your life, have conspired together to make you a tool in the hands of the lord uniquely fashioned for a singular purpose. There is a work that only you can do. There are souls that only you can reach. God has blessed you with experiences, both good and bad, that uniquely equip you to minister to some individual in this world that desperately needs to know him.     We can marvel at the snowflakes, but human beings are much more complex than snowflakes. Each of us has been endowed by God with a completely unique spectrum of gifts. Each one of us can do things, say things, think things in different ways. Each of us fills a specific role in the Kingdom of God! In a hurting world every need must be addressed. And in order to accomplish that every one of us must excel at being that perfect individual that God made us to be. Today, lets learn a lesson from the snowflake. It was formed in a seemingly random and chaotic environment. However, when it finally made landfall, there was a specific, ordered and unique six-pointed design to it. Let it remind you today that you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God, for his purpose!     This brings me back around to our final lesson to be learned from a snowflake today. As I studied snowflakes last night I discovered something that I never knew about snow. Scientists have discovered that every snowflake has a tiny piece of dust at its core. Snow crystals begin their growth on a nucleus of wind-borne dust. Every snowflake has at its center an invisible grain of dust. A water molecule bonded to that speck of dust as it fell through the atmosphere. It happened once, twice, three times, and more, gathering weight, and then it was lifted again by the updrafts of the wind, each time acquiring more water molecules that form the branches and points of the snowflake. The flake keeps getting bounced back up into the atmosphere until it becomes too heavy and finally falls to the earth as a completely unique snowflake.     I must admit, I was shocked to discover this last night, particles of airborne dust provide the nucleous about which snowflake crystals grow. Without dust there would be no snow…. But what struck me last night was the fact that every snowflake has a heart of stone. A “dirty heart” if you will. The process of the formation of snow covers that heart of stone with the pure white of frozen water crystals. We have a lot in common with snowflakes. We also had a heart of stone. We also had a dirty, sin stained heart. But the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah (1:18), extended us an invitation, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”     My favorite thing about a snowfall is how it changes everything. The whole world becomes a much prettier place for at least a few hours as a fresh blanket of new snow covers all the impurities and imperfections. Everything is made brand new by the miracle of snow. The Lord, extended you and I an invitation to experience a similar transformation in the spiritual realm. When the blood of Jesus is applied to the heart of an individual, it cleanses him from all sin. God removes every stain and washes him even whiter than snow. This is why David prayed in Psalm 51:7, “…wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.     Wash me, David said. Cleanse me, and I will be whiter than snow. How do you get whiter than snow? The answer lies in the third lesson we can learn from a snowflake this afternoon. In the Hebrew language there are two words to express the different kinds of washing, and they are always used in a distinct manner to indicate the kind of washing that takes place. One word for “wash” indicates the kind of washing which only cleanses the surface of a substance, which the water cannot penetrate. This is the kind of washing you do on your car, or your floor when you mop it. You can’t wash it through and through, you only clean the surface of it. This is the kind of washing that takes place in a snowflake. The speck of dust is covered. It is concealed. It is transformed on the surface, but at it’s core it is still dirty. Just like the pristine tranquil beauty of a snowfall. Under that snow, all the trash, and imperfections are still there and in a few hours of harsh sunlight, they will be revealed again.     However, that’s not the word that the Psalmist used. The Hebrew word used by our songwriter is one that signifies the kind of washing which penetrates completely through the substance of the thing washed, and cleanses it thoroughly. It is the word that is applied to the washing of clothes – a process where a thing is washed through and through. This is the same word that David used in verse 2 of this same Psalm (51:2) when he said “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin;” Wash me, David said 5 verses later, and I shall be whiter than snow.     This is the third lesson to be learned from a snowflake. In the matter of cleansing, we are different from the snowflake. When God washes us, he washes us whiter than snow. He doesn’t just cover up our dirty heart – he washes it through and through. My sins don’t remain, their stains are gone. I’ve been given a brand new heart! My past is forever past. It has been cast as far as the east is from the west – never to be remembered against me again!     As I looked over my yard today I was struck by the sheer beauty of the snow. But I was also reminded that this beauty is a passing thing. Tomorrow it will all be a muddy mess. Today all is pristine and white. Tomorrow things will be muddy and messy and generally worse than they were before the snow.     As I considered that, I was very thankful for the cleansing blood of Jesus. I’ve been washed in the blood – and it was more than just a temporary change. My soul was cleansed by the blood of the lamb. I’ve been washed through and through. That’s the most valuable lesson we can learn from a snowflake…

Watch The Snowflake Man

 

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