When I was operating the dairy, I heated the barn with a sheet iron wood stove. I didn’t like to build a fire unless it was absolutely necessary to keep the water pipes from freezing. Some called this laziness, but I preferred to think of it as being frugal and not wasting natural resources.
Choosing to provide only the bare minimum of necessary heat often proved to be quite stressful. I found myself almost daily debating myself as to whether or not a fire was needed. When the temperature dropped below freezing and stayed below freezing, that was a no brainer. But Kentucky winters rarely produce long stretches of below freezing temperatures.
On mostly sunny days, when the outside temperature rose to 40+ degrees, the temperature could drop to the mid-teens at night and the temperature in the barn would not fluctuate enough to matter. However, when the temperatures hovered just around 32 degrees both day and night, that was the time that I was more likely to make a fool-headed decision. On those days, I personally, physically did not feel a need for an external heat source. Between my own internal body heat and the insulated clothing which I wore to preserve it, I didn’t realize that the temperature inside the barn was steadily dropping. My perception was that as long as I felt reasonably comfortable, then everything else must be experiencing the same degree of warmth. As a result, just about every winter, there would be at least one morning when I regretted having lost the previous night’s debate concerning the need for a fire.
Thus, the stressful inner debates which often plagued my days and produced many a sleepless night. “Do I build a fire or not?” “Did I make the right choice in not building a fire?” “Should I get up, put my clothes back on, and go build a fire or not?”
Spiritually, the times that offer the most risk for us to allow our faith to grow cold are not the times when our moral environment and circumstances are drastically fluctuating. We may occasionally find ourselves temporarily cast into a very immoral environment. We are cast there by chance, and not by our own choosing. For just a few hours or days, we find ourselves surrounded by people who unashamedly and openly practice sin. But then our spiritual environment changes for the better. We are afforded the opportunity to return home to the warming strength of our loved ones who faithfully serve the Almighty. We are afforded the opportunity to gather with our spiritual family to praise God and to build up our faith. The warmth produced by these experiences and bonds help erase the freezing effects of the past few days, and our souls become warm again in the light of the Son.
Spiritually, the times that offer the most risk for us to allow our faith to grow cold are not the times when we find ourselves totally submerged in an immoral environment for an extended period. No doubt these prove to be trying circumstances; more so than the afore described situation. But the initial shock of the undesirable surroundings often motivates us to kindle a large fire within our hearts through prayer, Bible study, and self-evaluation, so that we can keep from freezing in our devotion.
Often, the times that offer the most risk for us to allow our faith to freeze are the times when we hover around the dividing line of sin and righteousness; sometimes rising just above it in order to serve God for a short while, sometimes dipping below the line to indulge in sin for a few hours. During these times, we generally find ourselves surrounded by attractive, engaging personalities who really seem neither evil nor righteous; they are just good old boys and girls trying to grab the most out of life. During these times, we generally find ourselves tempted to indulge in seemingly innocent, enjoyable activities that really appear to be neither right nor wrong; they appear to be colored with a grayish hue. During these times, we find ourselves gradually spending less and less time worshiping and serving God with our faith-filled families. Instead, we find ourselves spending more time engaging in activities that once were taboo; activities from which we at one time abstained, but which now steadily are becoming a part of our lifestyle.
In our minds, we really don’t feel that our spiritual temperature and fervor has drastically changed. Since we do not feel spiritually cold, we reason that we evidently are not cold and there is no danger of our faith freezing. We may even begin to reason that there never was any danger of freezing; that the danger was just an illusion created by those who wanted to control us. Then one day, we wake to find that the temperature of our hearts has crossed the line which separates between sin and righteousness. The thought of serving God no longer generates even the smallest amount of comforting warmth. Spiritually, we have frozen.
When I was milking, it didn’t take a great amount of labor to thaw or repair a water line, so I took a lot of chances. Spiritually freezing is a totally different story. Losing our desire and ability to serve God because we have allowed our hearts to wonder far away from the Son is devastating.
If you ever find yourself hovering around that line between evil and righteousness, build a fire before it’s too late.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13)
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