Ok, let’s have a show of hands. Who is tired of winter? Yup, that’s just what I thought: All but a couple of you raised your hand despite the fact that you are alone in front of your computer. This winter seems to have gone on forever and there’s no end in sight! It has now been a month since that rascally groundhog stepped out of his hole and predicted six more weeks. As I look outside, I am not even sure that what is piled along the driveway now will be gone in that length of time. Winter can be rough. There is snow to shovel, icy roadways and sidewalks to navigate, and the scare that comes from opening the heating bill. It is cold in so many ways.
One of the things I believe makes it so cold is not those subzero temperatures or the white landscape but rather our own hibernation from the world. Because of the hassle of waddling like a penguin in layers and layers of clothes, we don’t get out as much and therefore don’t have the human interaction that many times keeps us fresh and excited about life. We may talk on the phone with our friends but for the most part except for work and church, we become secluded from the world. For instance, when was the last time you talked to your neighbor? You may have waved as you each scrapped the snow from your driveways but an actual face-to-face conversation? Probably not since last year.
There is a danger in not spending time with others. We begin to think too inwardly and sometimes that can lead to us drawing selfish, self-centered conclusions about life, people, and the world around us. Today is the birthday of one of America’s greatest writers, Dr. Seuss. His best known story is a great commentary on what can happen when we set ourselves apart from others. Remember how the Grinch tried to steal Christmas? The Grinch had a poor opinion of the Whos down in Whoville because he didn’t get to know them. His heart had become as frozen as the mountain on which he lived.
Just like the Grinch, when we retreat to our own little world, we run the risk of forming opinions that have nothing to do with the real world around us. Our hearts become frozen toward those and those things we don’t understand. This is why it is easy to judge, dislike, or criticize that which we do not know. However, we are not called to judge and despise, we are called by God to love.
The book of 1 John reminds us of the basic tenet of calling ourselves Christians:
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love (1 John 4:7-9, MSG).
Have you permitted this year’s record low temperatures to affect the inside of your house as well as the out? Have you allowed your heart to become as frozen as the landscape? Have you frozen out some people in your life?
Love is the only thing that can melt that frozenness away. Warmer temperatures will be here soon to melt away all the snow and bring the beautiful colors of spring but unfortunately an icy heart can be year-round phenomenon. The love that is needed to melt the cold in our hearts does not need to wait for warmer temperatures. It begins today, this very minute, as we make the simple decision to love and respect one another. Let God’s love bloom an early spring into your frozen landscape of a hostile heart.
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