As sub-zero temperatures cover much of the Northeast/Midwest and wind chills plummet into the negative digits, I am thinking about ice and cold. Even down here in the South, we’ve experienced temperatures below freezing for several days.
Growing up in the Northeast, I experienced many icy cold days of winter. When I was younger, I don’t think the cold bothered me as much. As children, we would be thoroughly bundled up before heading out to play in the winter white. I remember putting on two or three layers of thick socks and then sticking my feet into empty plastic bread bags before putting them into my winter boots.
Snow pants, coats, hats, scarves, mittens, boots…
It was quite an endeavor to get ready to go outside, but we didn’t let that stop us. We loved traipsing through the thick snow to build snowmen, make snow angels, play “Fox and Chickens”, go sledding, and have snowball fights.
These days though, I’m grateful to live in the Southeast where winter temperatures tend to stay quite mild. I am thankful for a warm place to come home to and a snuggly blanket to wrap around my shoulders. Later this week it will warm up outside, but right now it remains wintery-cold. My bird baths have been frozen solid every day this past week. Each morning, I’ve gone out and poured hot water on them in hopes of melting the ice so the birds can get something to drink. Most days I’ve gone out more than once to try to melt the ice-covered bird baths. As the ice melts, it always starts at the outer edges and moves to the center…
MELT: The Dictionary definition is “to make or become liquified by heat.” Some synonyms are: thaw, defrost, soften.
THAW: The Dictionary states “(Of ice, snow, or another frozen substance, such as food) to become liquid or soft as a result of warming.”
MELT: definition 2. “to make or become more tender or loving.”
All this cold and ice has me thinking about hard hearts. Do you know anyone who seems to be “hard-hearted” and in need of some melting?
The Definition is “incapable of being moved to pity or tenderness; unfeeling.” Some synonyms include: cold, hard, callous, uncaring…stony-hearted, having a heart of stone.”
I can think of few people in my life who seem to be this way on occasion. This world feels so broken at times and there are so many hurting people out there. I’ve heard it said that “Hurting people hurt people” and very often this seems to hold true.
I know sometimes I can be this way. When I’m frustrated, hurt, fearful or angry, my soft heart can turn a bit hard. My angry thoughts can turn to hurtful words. My impatience can lead to nagging. My fears can lead to stressed-out actions. My focus can get very self-centered and self-protective, which doesn’t lend itself to loving and “valuing others above myself” (Philippians 2:3). My heart can get cold and my actions can get icy at times.
I don’t want to be this way. I want to have a soft heart, a tender soul, a love that is patient and kind. At times like this, I need to step back and get warmed back up, to melt (as defined above) and be made “more tender and loving.”
How do I do this? How do we do this?
I have found there is one true cure for my cold, hard-heart…for all of our hearts.
It is the pure LOVE of God, found in His Son, Jesus.
I believe we all were created for love and we all want to be loved.
Many have sung that “Love makes the world go round.” (Deon Jackson-1946, Jennifer Lopez-2016) True love is not thinking of myself but of others first, of seeking to bless and to give unselfishly to those around me. True love battles hate and hurt. True love changes hearts.
I Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Love has a way of softening the rough edges in our lives.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 describes it this way: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
God’s kind of love is unselfish and always focused on others.
His love can soften even the hardest of hearts.
It reminds me of the animated Christmas classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Even the Grinch thought he could steal Christmas from the Whos in Whoville. But, instead he was welcomed in with loving-kindness, despite what he’d done…and it changed him. He was changed down to the core.
“But this… this sound wasn’t sad. Why… this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without *any* presents at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it *came*! Somehow or other… it came just the same
He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!
What happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!”
-Excerpts from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss
Love changed the Grinch.
Love changes us.
Love can take an icy cold heart and make it soft and tender.
God’s unconditional love can change us all.
God says in Ezekiel 36:26,
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
In C.S. Lewis’s allegory, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the White Witch turned many creatures into stone with her magic. I love the scene in the movie based on the book, when Aslan, the Lion and Jesus-figure, comes into a hall filled with dozens of stone creatures. He simply breathes on them. Right before our eyes, Lucy’s close friend Mr. Tumnus melts from Aslan’s warm breath and becomes fully alive again, taken out of his frozen state. This breath of life turned the creatures of stone into creatures of flesh once again.
God is always in the business of bringing new life.
Genesis 2:7 “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.”
Ezekiel 37:5 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones—I will make breath enter you and you will come to life.”
John 20:22, “And with that, He (Jesus) breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit.”
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
Amy Grant recorded a beautiful song called “Breath of Heaven.” (watch on YouTube) It was written by Chris Eaton and Amy said the following about the song in an interview, “It is a prayer that fits a lot of people and circumstances, because it’s a cry of mercy.” (www.songfacts.com)
Are you in need of some mercy this New Year?
Are you seeking some warmth for your soul?
Does your heart long to be loved unconditionally?
Do you want someone to help you soften your rough edges?
May I invite you to turn to Jesus and ask Him to breathe on you with His life-giving grace and love. May He warm your soul and soften your heart as you spend time with Him reading His Word. May God melt all your cold places with His love, peace and hope this day and always.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Romans 15:13