Had the privilege recently of gaining inspiration from nature which is a great teacher. 0 Degrees F, wind chill near -20, and if I was not dressed properly, I suppose I woud not have been so happy.
Good thoughts of the homeless in the cold? Good thoughts of the Antarctic where many were stranded because frozen water humbled a huge ship? Good thoughts of gas, water, phone and any outside workers? Good thoughts of seeing people across the states whose lives are inconvenienced, or others who unknowingly flirt with death?
A thousand times ‘no,’ but I would distinguish between the negative effects of cold, versus cold itself.
Let’s back up a few years to consider our friend Simon whose surname was Peter. He became a trusted friend to John, James, Matthew and the others, but he became a special friend to the Lord. Peter was known in his entirety, warts and all, as well as the goodness given him by God.
Peter was given a sacred trust, a trust he did not understand as yet, but the same Lord who picked him up as he was sinking on the water, or privately invited him to the bedside of Jairus daughter, also told Peter he would deny him not once, not twice, but three times, for He knows what is in man. He also knew this same Peter would stand tall once more, being directed and taught by the spirit of God himself. Thankfully, The Lord is more tolerable than we are.
‘Me? Deny you?’ said the apostle, and oh how slow was the Lord to chastise, only adding, ‘before the cock-crow three times, you WILL deny knowing me.’ He of course represented you and I as well, for honesty always finds its target.
Peter walked with the Lord for three years, was admitted into the inner sanctum; he saw the Lord transfigured, he saw the raging waves of the sea ‘be still’ at the mere word of the Lord; he agreed with the others, ‘what manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him?’
He saw his mother in law healed in an instant; he witnessed lepers made clean; he saw dignity given to women unlike no other; he saw Lazarus ‘come forth;’ he saw the death of the Baptist and was comforted with the others; by the Lord; he saw and heard the teachings on the mount; he saw the deaf hear, he saw the blind see; he saw the mute given a tongue; he received lessons on the end of days, and he was taught that the Lord would engage in an Exodus of a different nature, a departure as it were, ending at Calvary’s hill.
Peter believed, while the Lord helped his unbelief. So there he was at the fire outside the gate where the Lord was taken first to Pilate. The beauty of our memory can also crush our spirits, for the maiden said, ‘are you not this mans’ disciples?’ Peter instinctively answered, ‘no, not me,’ and remarkably did not even weigh his options, after all the Lord DID say this would happen, but selective amnesia is a killer on the conscience. The maid said ‘Hmmm, that’s strange, I could have sworn I saw you with him.’
Peter’s mind was now burning within his being, and he was COLD. This fire however that he stood by could never warm his conscience, and the lass asked a third time, ‘Do you not know him?’ At this instance, when Peter sensed the stoppage of time, and his spirit was 75 degrees below zero, and how this fire really could not give him the warmth of a distanced soul, he says sharply: ‘no, I do not know him!’ and immediately the cock crowed its last.
Oh my, in the twinkling of an eye, he sensed the weight of the Lord’s voice, but Peter knew it was not condemnatory, but simply One who knew him so well, and loved him regardless. Peter went out and wept bitterly, and I suppose it was not really cold anymore. Yes, the Lord warns us to watch that our hearts do not grow cold, for really we are not that different.
Yes while our friend was away from the Lord he was cold, and that warm fire didn’t satisfy, but this same Peter in little over a month could say with a fresh boldness, ‘ye denied the holy one and the just…’ Such is the perfect forgiveness and forgetfulness of God. His worth never diminishes.
In this ‘season’ of bitter coldness, I am awed at God’s promise to remember our sins and transgressions no more. I am struck in light of my aloofness toward God, and an occasional cavalier attitude toward man, yet God is still true, and He is ever faithful.
Seeing His perfect display of grace toward Peter, we also need to forgive with forgetfulness, without a defect, and without reservation. Surely you have seen, or maybe been part of forgiving a person, yet at a later date reminding them….This is not the more excellent way.
I am thankful for that fire of Peter, the cold, the maiden’s query, the cock crowing, but especially, a simple look from the Lord which humbles and strengthens. The brutal honesty of coldness is a very good thing.