Lessons from the Frozen Tundra

We are breaking extreme cold records.  In Salina, it wasn’t long ago when the outside regular temperature was -11 degrees with a windchill in the -30s.  Today Heidi and I woke up to 9 degrees and thought we were in the middle of a heatwave.  Our son, Austin, and his wife Kellyn live in Frisco, Texas in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.  They have fared much worse than we have in Kansas.  They are experiencing bursting pipes, lost power, freezing temperatures, boil orders, and general boredom that is beyond description.  As I consider the frozen tundra of the central and southern states, I am reminded of a few spiritual lessons.

1.       We are living in a cursed world.  I love the mountains.  Every time I venture west to explore the Rockies, I am overwhelmed with their beauty and majesty.  Then I realize, because of the curse in Genesis 3, we have never seen God’s best.  We are still waiting to experience God’s best in creation.  Romans 8 reminds us that creation has been groaning with labor pains and will one day be set free (See Romans 8:18-22).  As I listen to the sounds of crackling ice, freezing winds on our windows, and the rustling of snow underfoot, I can only imagine the groaning sounds of creation.

2.       We are frail and fragile.  Heidi and I have been blessed so far and have not lost power or have our pipes freeze.  For those of you who are experiencing these things, the freezing temps, bursting pipes, and lost power should remind us how frail and fragile we are (see Psalm 102:11, 103:15). 

3.       Better Days are coming.  I was looking at my calendar and was reminded that Easter is coming in a few weeks.  If the ice and snow remind us of the frailty of humanity, the promise of Spring reminds us of the coming of the new heaven and new earth.  We will not be stuck in the frozen tundra forever, but Jesus will make everything new and we will live in the eternal glory of the presence of God seeing Him face to face.  Do not give up hope. Better days are coming. 

4.       Jesus is Lord.  If 2020 and the first few months of 2021 have taught me anything, it is Jesus is Lord. He is my refuge and my hope.  I can anchor my life to Him, and He will be faithful even when I am faithless.  Even in these extremely difficult days, we can take great solace in knowing that Jesus is Lord, He will make everything new, and we will be with Him forever.

Do not give up. You are not alone. Jesus cares, He is faithful, and He will see you through.   

Truth be Told

Thanks to my wife, Heidi, I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday.  On our way home from a Saturday morning breakfast date, we were casually listening to Christian radio. Suddenly, Heidi reached over from the driver’s seat and proceeded to turn the radio volume to exceedingly high levels.  Screaming over the noise, she yelled, “Greg, listen to these lyrics.  Have you ever heard these words[1]?” 

Lie number one you’re supposed to have it all together
And when they ask how you’re doing
Just smile and tell them, “Never better”
Lie number 2 everybody’s life is perfect except yours
So keep your messes and your wounds
And your secrets safe with you behind closed doors
Truth be told
The truth is rarely told, now

 The lyrics flew into my heart like a well-aimed arrow from a trained archer.  It pierced me deeply. “But there’s more.  Listen,” Heidi said.

I say I’m fine, yeah I’m fine oh I’m fine, hey I’m fine but I’m not
I’m broken
And when it’s out of control I say it’s under control but it’s not
And you know it
I don’t know why it’s so hard to admit it
When being honest is the only way to fix it
There’s no failure, no fall
There’s no sin you don’t already know
So let the truth be told.

I just sat and listened attentively.  The words swept over me until Heidi said, “But here’s my favorite part.  Could you imagine if the church was really like this?”

There’s a sign on the door, says, “Come as you are” but I doubt it
‘Cause if we lived like it was true, every Sunday morning pew would be crowded
But didn’t you say the church should look more like a hospital
A safe place for the sick, the sinner and the scarred and the prodigals
Like me

Heidi’s question has sat with me for days. I’ve contemplated her comment, chewed on these words, and prayed through the implications.  What would happen if the church became a hospital for the sinner?  What if it were a safe place for the sick? What would it take?  Let me offer three simple reminders:

1.     Admit: I am broken.  I do not have everything together. I’m frail and fragile. If you are living and breathing, you are broken.

2.     Look: See others as broken and frail.  We have lost our compassion. It’s almost as if we expect others to be perfect while allowing ourselves to be weak and broken. John Wesley has been noted as saying, “We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others.”

3.     Act – The model Christ gives us is to see the hurting people, have compassion upon them, and meet a need.  Throughout the New Testament, the writers remind us that a God-centered life becomes an others-focused life. 

Can the church be a haven for those who are broken and hurting? Can the church be a hospital where the sick and dying can find healing and hope?  Are you willing to be honest and admit your own brokenness?  Will you intentionally keep your eyes open for others who are hurting, and will you act upon those hurts? Jesus is our hope.  He is the great healer. Too often, we expect a lost person to enter the church, act like Jesus, and then get saved.  Somehow the church must create space for broken people to come, just as they are, and find hope, love, and salvation through the good news that Jesus saves.  Jesus reminds us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  So, let the truth be told.

[1]           Truth be Told Song by Matthew West