Friday, January 10, 2014

"Chilled Bones"

     This past week, as we've experienced the coldest weather our area has seen in many years, I've realized I owe a debt of acknowledgement to those of you who live in frigid climates.  I never knew until the last few days the challenge that confronts you in winter.  Moreover, I am quite sure I still don't understand.

    "Who can stand before His cold?" (Psalm 147:17).

   If you read the Bay To Baie essays, you might recall my determination to experience the chill we've briefly known.  "I want to feel it," I wrote with a sense of foolish bravado, adding, "The cold is exhilarating."  Well, I felt it all right.  For two consecutive nights, temperatures dipped into the teens.  We've not seen such weather in thirty years, and allow me to acknowledge that it will be fine with me if it's another thirty years before we see such again.  After my walk the first morning, when the thermometer registered 17 degrees, a chill entered into my bones that didn't leave for two days.  I felt cold in even the warmest room, and the notion of "exhilarating" flew out the window of my nervous system, never to return again. 

    It says much about those of you who really know and live with the cold that you didn't write to chide me for my ignorance and bluster.  Furthermore, 17 degrees is balmy in comparison to what many of you experience for extended periods in the winter.  I must therefore acknowledge and even apologize to you:  I didn't know!  I still don't know!  And I admire you and will pray during every winter to come that the Lord will extend His grace and safekeeping "before His cold."  Please pardon the nonsense I proposed and expressed the other day.  God bless you all, and may He send a warm and early spring to your locale.

    "Surely I am more brutish (stupid) than any man, and have not the understanding of a man" (Proverbs 30:2).

     How little we really know, in principle or in practice.  The more we learn - if indeed, we truly learn - the more we realize the limits of our understanding.  Such difficult truth especially relates to our comprehension of God and His truth.  As we often suggest, no experts exist among us regarding spiritual realities.  "If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:2).  An Ocean without shore beckons us to venture ever onward into the Light that first illuminates our hearts and minds, but then exposes the far greater blindness that exists in even the most godly among us.  The more we see, the more we realize how little we see.  This is wisdom, united with its perpetual companion, humility.  Thus, Agur, the writer of the 30th Proverb referenced above, presents himself as a very wise man, even as he acknowledges his intellectual limitation.

    I didn't know about the cold, or of its deeply chilling and discomfiting effect.  Nor do I yet know.  A mere two days of temperatures in the upper teens does not acquaint one with the reality of a true winter.  You were kind not to react to my nonsense the other day.  For that, I thank you and, again, I commit to pray for you for the rest of this season and for those to come.  More importantly, I am reminded of brutishness and lack of understanding in greater matters.  That's a lesson that always requires a deeper and more secure place in my heart and mind.  So, I'm grateful that chilled bones led to the realization of my ignorance, and to my drawing a bit nearer to the warmth and light that burns upon the bright hearth of God's truth.

"Thou hast made summer and winter."
(Psalm 74:17)
"The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee."
(II Timothy 4:13)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25)

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