Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

12/11/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Preparing for Winter

 

  What great weather we’ve had this fall. The warm sun just kept on shining right through Thanksgiving and into December. We were thinking this may never end. But it did. Storms rolled through the Village, winds blew, lightning flashed, the rains poured and it even hailed.Then, all of a sudden winter was here with its cold, overcast days. Tuesday was a nice balmy day. Some south wind, but pleasant. Sometime around two or threeo'clock, I stepped out of my study to a cold north wind that before dark plummeted the thermometer to a cold twenty-plus degrees.

 

  It happens, life, like the weather, can change in a matter of moments. We are living in the sunshine, everything is going our way, then without warning, we are chilled by a change in circumstance: Death of a loved one, health problems, financial collapse, ruptured relations, trapped by some ugly sin; we find ourselves thrown into a spiritual winter, sometimes without explanation.

 

  Spiritual winters are dangerous. They can kill by freezing families, chilling churches and destroying our faith. How do we cope with the cold winds of discouragement and adversity? How can we survive such conditions?

 

  Prepare the heart. Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled." We must know that winter is not an enemy. God made winter. Thou hast made the summer and winter. Psalm 74.17. We must know that hard is not bad, it is just hard. Winter cleanses the earth, gives rest to the plants and animals, and kills the bugs; flowers need the cold to bloom in the spring. Winters are survivable!

 

  Listen church, there is no joy without sorrow, pleasure without pain, forgiveness without sacrifice, eternal life without death, reward without work. Paul puts it in these words, "Indeed we share in His suffering in order that we may also share in His glory"(Romans 8.17).

 

  Think on these things! Mental attitude has meant the difference in many winter survival stories. Fantastic strength comes from positive thoughts, but allowing Satan to control our thoughts can be fatal. Stay in control: "Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent, or praiseworthy — think about such things. And pray always"(Philippians 4.8-9 & 1 Thessalonians 5.17).

 

  Dress properly. Every winter, news people warn us of the dangers of hypothermia. Mother was always saying, where is your coat?" How are we dressed? "Put on the whole armor of God, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6.10-18).

 

  With proper lifestyle. "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5.15-18). There are some things that should not be attempted in winter. It is not the time for taking a hike in the mountains, going for a swim, traveling in a blizzard. Too many things can happen unexpectedly. Life can be threatened by the simplest mishap. Paul understood this in his admonition to Timothy: "Do your best to come before winter." You see, A spiritual winter is not the best time to stop reading our Bible, to decrease our prayer time, miss Sunday evening worship, Wednesday evening Bible study. People survive by staying on the move. The worst thing is to go to sleep in the grip of cold. Our answer to spiritual survival is involvement; losing ourselves in ministry; giving ourselves to something bigger than we are; serving others.

 

  With warm fellowship. How many times have we read about those who survived a winter ordeal by sharing one another’s body heat, getting close? Winter is not a time for going out alone. God made us for relationships, fellowship, togetherness. We need one another’s strength and encouragement. The church landscape is strewn with those who severed fellowship with the spiritual family during their spiritual winter. "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4.9-12).

 

  With a perseverant faith. We must know that winter is not endless. Spring will come. We can survive. Spring even came in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia where it was "always winter and never Christmas for so long." Do not give up. Christianity is a religion of perseverance, of keeping-on-keeping-on. Jesus promised the reward for continued faithfulness. This was a comfort for Paul and for us: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Timothy 4.7-8).

 

  Indeed, spiritual winters can be tough, but they are survivable; however, we must face them properly equipped. Amen?

 

—Randall Caselman