Over the last several days, the temperature here in East Texas has been pretty chilly! Late Sunday evening, our heat went out and we called our friend Glen who owns Duke Heating & A/C. He came right over. In a matter of minutes it was nice and toasty again in our home which was great since the temperature was predicted to dip down in the teens overnight. I don't know about you, but I don't particularly like to be cold. I will layer clothing, pile on the blankets, rub my hands together or even blow warm air from my mouth through my hands just to get a smidgen of warmth. Have you ever noticed in cold months how people seem to want to hibernate? It takes something extra to want to stick to the job, keep your kids happy in the house, get to church, or do just about anything outside.
I think we experience frigid temperatures in our faith, too. There are cold days when hope dies, love walks out the door, a friend moves away, the job ends, the doctor calls. God seems distant. A prayer fades in your throat before you barely utter a word. The Bible stares back at you with a blank page. Maybe its like spiritual frostbite. Dangerous. Painful.
During the winter we keep our fireplace going. I enjoy sitting in a cozy chair beside the fire with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The warmth of the fire makes me feel relaxed and it seems to help clear my mind of all the things I have swirling around in it! What if the church is intended to be God's fireplace? What about all the people who need each other's warmth to survive the winters of their lives? We need a place to warm up, relax, and be encouraged by other believers. I recently read a story of a man who stopped to talk with a young boy on a blustery morning while waiting at a bus stop. "Are you cold? the man asked. The boy answered, "I was until you showed up." To someone who is starved for a kind word or the warmth of a smile, even a casual but personal question can be life-giving because it shows you care. As a member of Christ's body, the church, will you warm someone else today? When you warm someone else with a smile, a hug, or a pat on the back, you receive their warmth back.
Stand beside someone who is standing alone. There are people all around us that ache for someone to put an arm around them and squeeze tight. Unless you've been there, you have no idea how good that feels to a person who gets little or no affection. Not everyone has a spouse, parent, or even a friend who offers physical touch, but everyone needs it. Experts say twelve hugs is the minimum daily requirement. People who know me know that I love to give and receive hugs!
Touch someone with a warm word. There are people who are subject to other people's complaints all day long. Give a compliment or a friendly greeting to a store clerk, janitor, nurse or office manager. Their ears are hungry for something positive, encouraging, and helpful to the spirit. Think of as many phrases or sayings that can bring a smile to all of the faces you will meet throughout the day. Bring them JOY! Lending some kind words might mean making someone's day. In the extreme cold of life, we need each other. Reach out and warm a heart!