Winter can be a rather depressing time. It's so cold and dark. We're stuck inside, craving warmth. We try to pass the time by reading a book or watching television. We can't stay outside for vary long without freezing our butts off unless we've wrapped ourselves in so many layers we "look like a tick!" . . . like that kid in Christmas Story. Nope. We humans crave warmth.
So, what do YOU do to stay warm? My friend Jenny loves to drink coffee. I can imagine her huddled in a comfy chair, hands wrapped around a huge mug of her favorite brew . . . the steam from it warming her face.
My wife has many ways to warm herself. She likes to take hot baths. As soon as she feels a little chilled it's not long before the bath water starts to run.
Another way my loving wife warms herself is with her cats. They love to sleep on her lap, providing her with two little heating blankets. But her favorite way has GOT to be sticking her icy cold hands on my neck or by sucking every ounce of heat out of my body when she comes to bed. Yikes!!!
Some people like to build a fire. My brother-in-law always seems to have a fire blazing whenever we travel to their house in the winter. We too will have a fireplace soon. I gave my wife one for Christmas . . . hoping selfishly to lure her out of the bathtub and into the living room where I could at least see her!
There are many ways to stay relatively warm during the bleak Wisconsin winters. However there are some people who just can't handle it. They leave the state entirely during winter, spending the winter months in Florida or Arizona. Creeps. Wimps! Although, if we could, we probably would.
There are others who planned their lives a little ahead of time and somehow managed to actually live where it is warm already. Winter is not as big a struggle for them . . . but the summer is. LOL! I like to tease my friend Susan about her summers in Texas, just like she picks on me for our winters in Wisconsin.
Still others believe that the real way to survive the long, winter months is to embrace to cold! People go skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling like my cousin Roberta and her family, trying to enjoy the cold. I'm sorry but that's just insane. It might be fun to go snowmobiling for awhile but then, when you get back, you have to wait 30 minutes for your eyeballs to thaw out, it's can't be fun. No thanks!
Well, I have found a way to stay warm during the winter months. All year long actually. And I am going to share my little secret with you. Shhhh! Are you ready? Listen now. The secret to staying warm, even when winter is at its coldest . . . is . . . Jesus.
What? How cab Jesus keep us warm? Isn't He up there in heaven? Let me explain. We need to build a fire, but not like my brother-in-law does. It's a different kind of fire . . . and Jesus is the fuel. It's a simple math equation actually. You remember this equation from high school, right? A=B and B=C, then A must = C? Well, if Jesus is God (John 10:30), and God is love (1 John 4:8), then Jesus is love, correct? Are you with me so far? Now, remember the greatest commandment from Matthew 22?
"36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Remember now, Jesus is love. Read those verses again, only use the name of Jesus where the word "love" appears. Then twist it JUST a bit so it makes grammatical sense . . .
"Be Jesus" to the Lord your God. "Be Jesus" to your neighbor. We must love God as Jesus did. Submissive to God's authority as a son is to his father, and obeying God's will, no matter what the cost. "To do the will of my Father, who sent me." (John 6:38).
Okay . . . so we have our fuel - the love of Christ. Now all we need is some wood. The "wood" in my "get warm now" scheme is people . . . all the people we have in our lives. We must be Jesus to our neighbors, and that means everyone, even our enemies. So, how can we be Jesus to all the people we happen to meet? How can we love them like Jesus? Please listen to this song by Casting Crowns to find out.
Love Them Like Jesus by Casting Crowns
I have a friend who spends a lot of time as an Advocate for Compassion International. She sponsors at least a half a dozen children herself and encourages others to do so by volunteering at Compassion tables at numerous area events each year. She also leads a group of young ladies at her church. They make jewelry and use the profits to sponsor more children. My friend is "Jesus" to so many children in this world. How could I possibly "be Jesus" to her?
Well, when she seemed a little frustrated with life the other day, I let her know that I care about her as a friend and a brother. She knew that already but it's always good to be reminded of things like that from time to time. I went to visit her and gave her a hug for no other reason than I thought she could use one. I suggested she read Romans 8 - a chapter that always encourages me when I read it. And I prayed for her. I was "Jesus" to my friend, just like my friends are to me when I need "a little Jesus" in my life.
The chorus of that Casting Crowns song is an excellent to-do list for anyone wanting to warm themselves, or a friend, with the love of Christ.
- Love her like Jesus. Show compassion and mercy to those that are hurting.
- Carry her to Him. Pray for them. Pray WITH them. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
- You don't need the answers. Just listen! Be the caring friend that you are to them.
- Just know that He loves her. Have faith in Jesus to see your friend through their storm.
- Stay by her side. Never ignore a friend who is hurting. Perhaps God is testing YOU!
"35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:35
And that, my friends, is how to stay warm in the cold Wisconsin winter. It works! We can warm our hearts with the love that is Jesus. It is a fire that will never go out. :)
[This blog post is dedicated to my dear friend and sister Cheri. You inspire me. You are a blessing to SO many. I can't help but think that God smiled when he created you, knowing full well the smiles and the hope you would bring to the faces of his children around the world. May God bless you my friend. My sister. :)]