This past weekend JPUSA celebrated the New Year with our first Sunday service in our (newly re-done) Wilson Abbey building here in Chicago.
I was invited to help serve communion with the rest of our pastoral team and found myself in tears for most of that time. God’s grace to -me- for my own sins and selfishness as well as His incredible compassion for all of us really hit me in a good way.
For those who don’t know me well, it truly takes a lot for me to be so moved to cry. But sometimes God does that for me and I appreciate it when He does.
As cold as it is today in Chicago (-35 to -40 with wind chill figured in there is nothing quite as distressing to me as a cold heart.
Further, my own ability to just shut down and with poor attitude try to live with such a heart is about as bad as it can get. Perhaps you don’t have such moments but I admit I do.
When I was in kindergarten and up to the second grade I lived in a central Wisconsin county called Dodge. Looking back, it seems clear our family was trying to dodge all sorts of illness, financial, and at times attitude issues as well as coping with the amazing winters I remember as a child.
I believe I’ve mentioned here before (in my blog posts somewhere) that at one point a kind farmer and his wife allowed us to either stay free or very cheaply in what was a small, abandoned cheese factory on the edge of his property.
To me, it was really fun to see my older brother and sister ice skate in the basement there… years later I realized that was due to a bad foundation and leaking pipes.
I also thought it great fun to climb up and jump in the massive snow drifts we seemed to always get each winter, and to watch for the few vehicles coming by the two-lane road in front of another old farmhouse where we lived for a couple of years.
We called the big county snowplows “butterfly” snowplows because they had these awesome plows mounted on the front of their big dump trucks and as they’d go by our place tossing snow up (no exaggeration…) some 10 and up to 14 foot snowbanks were created right off and even up into our front yard which was on a bit of a hill.
As my parents, older brother and sister paid attention, they’d allow me to carefully play on and around these snowbanks. That I never recall sliding into the road is amazing… but equally true is that when those blizzards hit there was nearly zero traffic on that highway anyhow. Nothing but those big butterfly snowplows.
Do you ever get tempted to play around with sin? Are there times you fall into day-dreaming about this or that fantasy? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit… and other confidants into your life so they can help you keep out of harm’s way? Or do you slide around sometimes?
Like anyone, I’ve battled with drifting off and on. And I have less than zero excuse. I know the Bible, know Jesus in a real and personal way, and I also have more accountability partners around me (even living in the same building and proving a deep and gracious interacting friendship over many years) than just about any Christian I know.
It is as I’ve said for years- there is truly no excuse for any sin or hardness of heart in my life… in fact I have less excuse than anyone reading this as far as I can tell.
So I pass on to you what I need to be reminded of on a regular basis: no matter the spiritual climate, there is an “ever-present help in trouble”, “a friend that sticks closer than a brother”, the prayers of many solid Christians bros. and sisters close and near. With the internet we have HUGE resources of Bibles, commentaries, Greek and Hebrew exposition, social media groups both public and private, prayer circles, small group links and spiritual help from devotionals and more resources to help with temptation and sin-specific matters.
Excuses? Well, there are often a few or many “reasons”… but no excuses for not rightly, positively dealing with temptation, sin and our need for forward-progress, spiritual growth -no matter the “weather”.
You don’t have to look out the window or check the Web for the current temperature of your heart, spiritually speaking.
But from time to time we need to pay serious attention or reap the sad and in some cases, horrific consequences of pretending “the weather’s fine” when in fact it’s not.
Grace is something to experience, not merely expect. Facing sin is foundational to receiving grace.
Keep an eye on the weather! Stay warm!
Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn