The Bare Soul - December 23, 2007
Hearts of Fire and Frozen Lives

Psalm 40:10 - I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

Even though we are not yet officially into the winter season, we experienced an ice event the week before last and then a snow storm this past weekend. The ground became stiff as a board as temps plunged into the lower teens and upper single digits. Running barefoot in this type of weather is tricky, and I resorted to a couple of barefoot treadmill runs during these super frozen days.

After a few days of bone-chilling weather, a winter thaw is nice. Earlier this week, the temps rebounded to around 40 degrees and much of the week's prior precipitation had melted or was melting. Although it looked inhospitable to most, the thawing ground with patches of snow was delightful to run on barefoot. The ground gives way to the slushy, cold sensation as the bare foot pushes into the yielding earth. Sidewalks were strewn with rock salt and gravel from the passing snow plows so it was nice to jump over into the soft yielding ground as my feet were cradled by the cool softness.

Later that day after work, I stopped and picked a few things up at Wal-Mart. I don't generally like "just stopping by" Wal-Mart a week before Christmas to pick up a few things, because it is ... well, busy. One must just have the proper frame of heart and mind and make it a leisurely stroll rather than a mad dash. That's what it was for me this particular day -- a peaceful stroll while, picking up the few things I needed and then heading for the checkout. Just as I was about to lay my items on the checkout conveyor, a lady dashed in front of me and put her things down. I smiled at her and let her have her way. She gave me one of those "corner of the eye" looks as she made sure to avoid my smiles toward her, frowning all the time in my opposite direction. The clerk tried to engage her in friendly conversation but she would have none of it. "A pack of Misty cigarettes," she told the clerk who went behind the counter to retrieve her smokes. I felt such compassion for this woman. What could be making her hurt so bad that she could not be civil with those around her? As she was receiving her change, I leaned her way and made her engage my eyes and my smile while I said with great earnestness, "Jesus Christ loves you SO much, ma'am!" She looked  startled momentarily and then her frown suddenly turned to a smile as she said "Thank you for saying that". She quickly gathered her purchases and hustled out of the store, possibly somewhat a little embarrassed. However, I can't help but believe that God wanted her to hear, at that very moment, that He loved her and cared for her -- no matter what she was going through.

In this joyous season, we don't have to travel far to be exposed to people with seemingly frozen hearts, unyielding to any type of kindness. They are frozen in fear and hopelessness, not knowing that they can trust anyone, including and especially the Lord Jesus. Yet, when we allow God to speak through us to others, then it is the fire and the passion of the Living Word that can melt the frostiness of any disposition. Even though the ground I ran on earlier in the day looked cold and forbidding with its patches of snow, it was actually cool and conforming soil beneath my feet. Often times, we can totally misjudge someone that possibly has a fertile, tender heart under the mask of anger and tension. It merely takes stepping off the familiar path and engaging this person -- this lovely, lovely person whom the Lord Jesus bled and died for on Calvary's cross.

Will you allow the Lord to set your heart on fire to resuscitate the cold and frozen hearts of so many around you? If so, please pray with me:

 God, help us all to reach out with warm hands and hearts to the dying all around us. They need the warmth and the love that You so desire to give them through us. Make us willing participants of Your salvation for others. In Jesus name, Amen!

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