It was probably the coldest weather I’ve ever been out in during my entire life. It was about -40 degrees in the midst of the blizzard which was pounding Moorhead, Minnesota with snow. Dad was away from home with my oldest sister Cathy. So Mom informed my other older sister, Karen, that it was up to the two of us to go outside, scoop the snow away from the basement windows, and scrape any ice off of them.
I was all of about five or six years old. So, at first, this sounded like fun. We were going to get to go outside and play in the snow. Then Mom began to bundle me up with warm clothes. Long johns… check. Jeans… check. Two pairs of socks… check. T-shirt and flannel long-sleeve shirt… check. Sweater… check. Snowmobile suit (aka, insulated overalls for those of you in the Deep South)… check. Scarf… check. Knit stocking cap… check. Gloves… check. Snow boots… check. And then she said, “You can only stay out five minutes at most, and then you have to come back inside to warm up.
Wait a minute… This doesn’t sound like we’re about to go play in the snow. Is this even safe?
But we trudged outside, looking like the Michelin Man, found the first window and went to work on it. We got it cleared off, and Karen said we needed to head back inside. At that point, I was more than happy to do so. It was bitterly cold, and we were not playing anything in the snow.
When we got inside, our clothes were slightly damp from the falling snow, and we were cold to the bone. Mom got my outer gear off in the entryway, though I wasn’t sure I was going to be warm enough even inside to take it remove it. Fortunately, Mom had been making hot chocolate while we were outside. We drank in the heat from the house along with our mugs of steaming hot chocolate. As we finished up, she said, “Okay, let’s get you suited up again so that you can go do the next window.”
Hold up… do what? I just got warmed up.
Again Mom reminded us to stay outside no longer than five minutes. She didn’t have to warn me now. I understood clearly why this was important, and I had no intention of staying out even five minutes if we could get done more quickly. With that, we donned our cold weather gear, and did the deed. Finishing the next window, we came inside again, cold as we could be. It felt like the cold was compounding interest.
Once more Mom helped me get out of the outer gear and into the kitchen. There she had waiting for us bowls of warm soup. That sensation makes me think of what the first day in Heaven will be like. I’m not sure I could have been any happier to see any food in the world at that moment. With each bite, it seemed my body temperature began to stretch for normal again.
I only remember having to go out about three times like that. And each time we came in, Mom was ready to warm us up.
You know, it’s a cold world out there. Blizzard cold. Forty degrees below zero cold. People can’t stay out in that all the time and survive. They need a place that’s warm to thaw out hardened hearts… cynicism… jaded outlooks… hurts… losses. And they need someone who is standing there in that warm place ready to get the cold off of them. They need someone who has gone to the effort of making sure there is hot chocolate for the spirit and some warm soup for the soul.
Countless times throughout Scripture, God challenges His people to be the kind of people who look out for those who have had to endure the coldness of this world… foreigners… widows… orphans… the poor. It is His heart’s desire to see each of us be the kind of people who say, “Come in from the cold. I’ll warm you up. I’ll help you get ready to go back out and face what you have to face. I’m sorry you have to face it. But please don’t stay out there in it. Come back in from the cold, and I will be here with something else to warm you up.”
That’s what I try to do six days a week with this blog… give you a place to come in from the cold and warm up. It may not seem like much, but it’s one more way I can live out my overarching life purpose to “love and encourage people, offering them grace and hope.” And I hope that I inspire you to look for others around you who need you to tell them, “Come in from the cold.”