Winter in Texas (Part 1)

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 147:12-20 ESV).

You are aware that we live in Texas. It is a rare event when we get such cold weather that we see snow. However, Christmas, 2015 was such an event. As you can see from the picture, it was both beautiful and wintry cold. Here we are two years later and the first of the really cold air has started to move in to North Texas. My heat pump is working overtime with a high in the forties and cold rain falling all day. Hopefully it will be a short-lived event as predicted and we will return to more moderate weather. It does remind me of a very important spiritual principle. It takes a lot of work to stay warm. So, I’ve decided to spend a little time looking at the things that can keep spiritual winter from lasting too long.

Even just a century ago it took a lot more work to stay warm during the winter even in Texas. I have great respect for the people who live north of the Mason-Dixon and cope with such cold weather every year; and, even more so before the days when natural gas and/or electricity was piped directly into homes equipped with automatic, thermostat-regulated heating systems. It hasn’t been so long ago that most people had only one way to keep a house warm. They had to tend a fire. In fact, life during winter revolved around tending fire, because fire was the key to surviving the cold.

And tending a winter fire was a lot of work. It began during the warm seasons, because you had to think and plan ahead for the winter fire. You knew unpredictable snowstorms and severe cold were coming. You’d still have to do nearly everything you had to do in the summer, but everything would take longer in the winter, and you would have less daylight in which to do it. If you ran out of fire fuel in the bitter cold, you would be in trouble. So you were cutting down trees long before the first flurries, chopping them into logs, and figuring out ways to keep them secure and dry. When winter hit, the fire was always on your mind, no matter what else you were doing. If you didn’t fuel the fire, it went out. If the fire went out, the temperature dropped quickly and it took a lot more — more wood, more work, and more time — to reheat a cold room and cold furniture than to keep them warm in the first place. So every day, besides the rest of life’s demands, you split wood, restocked the fireside, kept the fire fed, and cleaned out ashes. The fire was the first thing you tended in the morning and the last thing you tended at night. Tending the fire was a lot of work, but it was necessary work because fire was the key to survival. That’s our spiritual key as well. We’ll be more specific in the coming days. Today, get your wood ready. Winter is here!