Sunday, September 26, 2010
The Frozen Sea
In the city where I was born there was a wonderful park. It ran throughout the city itself. It had a mill with waterfalls and there were ducks and swans gracing a wide pond in summer. It was the kind of pond just made for winter skaters who came by the hundreds in the cold weather.
When the winter temperatures dropped to a certain level the park police would test the ice. They would drive heavy trucks right out onto the ice and drill. If it was thick enough it was time to lace up. That hardened, thick layer of frozen protection, separating skater from freezing water below, kept things fun.
Sometimes separation can be a good thing. We find ourselves putting distance between ourselves and bad companions or bad habits for example. To be alone with God and gain wisdom for another.
Sometimes we separate ourselves for self protective reasons and what starts out being a little distance becomes a space we find ourselves unable to cross as time passes.
Sometimes we have made a sinful choice and feel the sting that separation brings. We fear discovery and so withdraw from insightful companions and probing friends. We can withdraw from Divine fellowship lest God "see" us.
All the time the temperature is dropping and a thin crust is forming.
There can be any number of reasons for the numbness we feel but mostly when it happens to me it is a drop in the temperature of my spiritual life. You know the symptoms. First disinterest in reading the Word, then no time to pray. (We might have to do some self examination if we brush shoulders with the Holy Spirit so maybe later.)
Time to interact with friends is diminished and their attempts to learn our emotional whereabouts are met with often elaborate plans of avoidance if not anger. All the time the sea within us is freezing. If it goes on long enough we may find the devil doing triple salkos on our pond.
I am reading the most wonderful book these days. I find myself hugging it to me and whispering to God, "I love this book." It had a title with horses in it so you know it captured my attention. It is Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson the updated 2009 edition. It is a book about love in the midst of judgement as demonstrated by the book of Jeremiah.
Peterson (who translated The Message) talks about breaking up the frozen sea within us. How God is committed to just such a break up, however that sea was formed. Life is possible when brake-up comes. Sometimes this is accomplished by raising the thermostat, at other times it takes an ice ax. In God's hands the method and the motive will always be love. The outcome recovery and restoration.
In Alaska we keep warm by putting on more layers. Resist that method in spiritual matters. Let God kindle a warmth in your center. His love and His word bring life and connectedness. His goal is always for us to show His heart to a cold world. The Church is the hot brick in the cold bed of this age. How can we accomplish that if our own fire goes out?
I have been blessed with friends and family who are so on fire for God they could melt sand into glass. I treasure them even when that sand rubs the hide of my hard places. Experience has taught me to run in the direction of the fire not away from it.
Need a do-over? Need an ice breaker? Lay that frozen sea at the feet of Jesus and call it His. See what happens. Jeremiah 31 sends these words of promise to our core,"...I never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love. Now I'll start over and build you up again..."
Soft hearts for hard hearts. Warm hearts for cold love. Approachable hearts instead of frozen walls. Hearts like His.
I was always more of a swimmer than a skater anyway. You?
And the streams are all swollen with winter,
Winter unfrozen and free...
Rich Mullins in The Color Green
May you be as winter unfrozen and free!