The Warmth.

The weather was frigid and snowy when I tried to take my miniature pinscher, Rico Suave, outside for his morning routine. But Rico, being the leisurely little dog that he is, did not want to leave the comfort of his bed. After getting his little jacket on (which is a struggle itself) I offered him a treat – a delicious “cookie” in the form of a Beggin’ Strip – as a reward for braving the cold and doing his business outside. Rico’s love for bacon-flavored treats proved stronger than his desire for warmth and comfort, and he eagerly ran out the door, ready to do his duty.

“And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? “

James 2:16

As I watched Rico scamper off, I couldn’t help but think about the daily devotional I had read the night before. The message, from the book “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young, was about trust and how to use the presence of Jesus as a refuge from anxious feelings. Young advises readers to recognize and acknowledge their feelings of anxiety and worry, rather than trying to numb or ignore them, and to turn to Jesus for help and guidance in overcoming them.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Feeling inspired by the devotional and motivated to find a meaningful gift for an upcoming birthday or holy day, I stopped by a Christian book store after my daily hike. While they didn’t have the study bible I was looking for, I browsed through the other books and came across “Holiness in Hidden Places” by Joni Eareckson Tada. Intending to get a sense of what the book was about as a potential gift, I randomly opened to the last page of a short story and read the final paragraph about two men who had survived an airplane crash.

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

Matthew 7:25

The storyteller reflects, “I was learning something important: we are most vulnerable to the piercing winds of doubt when we distance ourselves from the mission and fellowship to which Christ has called us. Our night of discouragement will seem endless, our task impossible, unless we recognize that He stands in our midst. So get in line, my friend. Come join us. . . and the warmth is contagious.” (Joni Eareckson Tada, 1999)

I was reminded of the cold fall morning when my best friend, the best man at my wedding, paid the ultimate price while we were deployed overseas in a warzone. I spoke at his memorial and sang a song for him called “The Warmth” by Incubus, dedicating the words to our fallen brother and singing them a little differently: “experience the war before you go.”

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

Matthew 24:6

It’s time to feel The Warmth. It’s time to seek out and embrace the warmth and fellowship of our community, and to offer warmth and comfort to those around us who may be struggling. It’s time to turn to Jesus for help and guidance in overcoming our doubts and fears, and to trust in His goodness and love.

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

1 John 1:3

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