It’s cold. Like, REALLY cold. A quick glance at my weather app tells me it is -10° outside, with a -22° wind chill. Now, this may not be any big deal for all of you hardy Midwesterners, but for this thin-blooded Southerner it’s insane! You know it’s winter in northern Illinois when you’re actually excited to see the LP gas truck pull up to top off your tanks. “Well, we may be getting another bill but at least we won’t freeze to death.” For me, it’s the Midwest winter equivalent of seeing the ice cream man driving up on a hot July day.
Over the last couple of years we have lived here, I’ve noticed how everyone (including me) essentially bears down and pushes through these cold months. We live our lives and go about our daily business as best we can, yet I have yet to meet someone who says, “Wonderful, more snow! I can’t wait to shovel it and scrape the ice off my windshield. And when it starts to melt, guess what? We’ll have SLUSH! Woohoo!” That person either doesn’t exist or should be committed to an institution.
Oddly enough, the Christian life can feel like we’re just slogging through it some days. Don’t misunderstand me: there is beauty and cause for joy and gratitude every day. But we also need to be honest enough to admit that there are often seasons in our lives where our hearts don’t easily see all that is ours in Christ. Just like the frost must be scraped from your windshield before you can see clearly enough to drive, so the cold, dark seasons of our lives can temporarily obscure our view from what it ultimately true. The Apostle Paul knew this all too well as he wrote these words from a prison cell:
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:13 ESV)
The difference the gospel makes for the Christian is we know that one day there will be an end to our gloom. One day the ice will melt, the sun will shine, the birds will sing, and the flowers shall bloom as the Lord Jesus returns to make all things new. There is a bright, beautiful future for all who trust in the shed blood of Jesus, no matter how cold and dark you may feel right now.
So, what do we do with this truth? First, we grab hold of it with all of our might, as a drowning man clings to a life ring. Second, we commit to pushing through the gloom with joy together, because we have a greater Hope. Finally, we can share the life-transforming good news with those whose entire lives are what C.S. Lewis called, “Always winter and never Christmas.”
Stay warm, friends. I’m off now to make another cup of tea.