Posted on: May 7, 2020 Posted by: vudfc Comments: 0

This post is part of a series about creating and testing rules to live by. Click here to head to the first post and see the list of “rules.”

It’s always colder than you think.

There was always that first spring day. The sun would peek through the clouds, the birds would chirp, and you’d be at school, attired in your winter garb, feeling as free as the new warming breeze. The next day you and half the school would don shorts and t-shirts, as if summer could be beckoned forth by making visible your scrawny, sun-starved bare arms and legs.

The day would be far colder, clothed thusly. Yesterday had seemed so pleasant. What happened? A goose-pimpled morning would surely give way to a balmy afternoon, right? It didn’t. It was a false spring, and the breath of winter was yet to be spent. You shivered through an uncomfortable day, longing for a warm shower.

It’s always colder than you think.

Presently this fact will be made known to you when you head off for a walk, waffling on and then deciding not to bring along a jacket. Ten minutes in, you know you erred.

It’s always colder than you think.

But the bony fingers of winter grope beyond the physical temperature. The icy gales blow through the old windows of life; they find their way in through the cracks.

Over the weekend, my family will return to my wife’s family’s home. We haven’t been back there since the jarring passing of her mother. Which followed the death of her grandfather. Which followed some concerns about the health of our youngest son. Already sleepless nights filled with tears. It was so very cold—colder than we thought it could be.

Have you felt the chill? It creeps in, seeming to seep into your very bones. That phone rings and everything changes. Forever. Cold.

And what of the world? There are summers in my life—the trip to the beach or walk along fetching wooded trail. There is the good book by the better fire, and the hug and laugh of a friend. Oh, a blanket to the soul.

Those times can make me forget what it is to be cold and misremember that we live in a world that reports pandemic deaths. One that has always found a way to foment frothing racism. It is a beautiful world, littered. Besmirched. One that traffics in slavery, in sex. One that abuses children—the most vulnerable set on frozen tundra barefoot, staggering the frigid plains in search of some misplaced sun: alone. Refugees. Rape. Meanness and murder. We kill, we steal, we destroy.

It’s always colder than you think.

Know this. That is my rule. Hold the knowledge close, so I never leave without my coat. So the sunny days don’t woo me into believing they are enough for a soul—that they won’t change as the seasons. With this knowledge, I cling to the hand beside me in the darkness. I weep but not alone: “If two lie down together, they will keep warm.” I need others with me to stand against the cold.

It’s always colder than you think.

In Genesis, God clothes Adam and Eve. Their hearts had gone cold, and the world with them. They made clothes of fig leaves—ridiculous garb unable to stand up to the elements. They were the kids in shorts shivering recess away. The world has gone cold.

Clothes make other appearances in Scripture. There is the famous coat of many colors that turned Joseph’s brothers green with envy. Or hippie John the Baptist sporting a camel’s hair sweater and leather belt—that guy had it going on. The picture in Revelation suggests Heavenly robes, made new like their wearers, without blemish.

Usually clothes in Scripture are put on. They shield from the weather, and provide warmth from the world. They suggest status in some cases; in others, relationships.

With Jesus, though, his life was taken, and so too were his clothes: “And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves.” The world had left him naked and dead. Cold and colder.

It seeks the same fate for us all. Just as it did for Adam and Eve. But in that sacred scene, when sin had sullied, a door left ajar for the brisk winds to enter, God gives them truer clothes. He removes the figs—they would never do in a cold world. He covers them with something good, something durable; He wraps them in warmth and sends them out to withstand the cold together.

It is always colder than you think.

So I must allow myself to be enveloped by the love and care of a God, the very Creator of the sun. The fire of friendship, too, must be kept ablaze. When one’s hands are frostbitten, it is too late for fire-making. The flame must be tended, cared for, valued in and out of season. You never know when the winds might kick up.

After being cold all day at school, I’d adjust. The next day, I’d revert back to jeans and a hoody, toting a jacket for good measure. I’ve tried to carry this habit on, dressing against my idealism. Preparing for the rain, I welcome its surprising absence. But should it come, I want to be ready. Equipped to stand against it. And help others do the same. God saw the weak and cold and clothed them. Jesus was stripped so others might put on righteousness. Can my shelter grow eaves for an increasing number of others to gather under? Can I treat joy and kindness and love like proper garments sewn from my life and given freely to those around me?

Despite the cold, can I live warmly on, unsurprised and undaunted by the chill in the air? And forever-always may I keep an eye out for the blessed sun.

It’s always colder than you think.

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