As I stare at the weather app on my phone, my brain is physically incapable of comprehending what a “high” of ‘Negative Eight’ is going to feel like this week. Eight degrees below zero. Forty degrees below freezing. For the HIGH that day. The apex of the thermometer’s reach that day will still be eight degrees below zero.
Knowing that is in my (near) future is kind of freaking me out. I am planning when to put gasoline in my car so that I won’t have to deal with that during the deep freeze days. I am packing a yoga bag with fleece-lined tights and fur-lines boots, a long scarf and earmuffs, and an extra pair of gloves, for that unlikely scenario in which I am stuck someplace cold. (There may also be a few protein bars and a pack of gum in there, too.)
So knowing these challenging conditions are just ahead, I prepare.
It occurred to me in church this week that I have all kinds of indicators about what else is ahead of me: I mean, I am glad I don’t know when, but I am fairly sure at some point, I will die. That weather app won’t matter a bit to me, someday. (again, hoping it’s far off in the future). Am I preparing for that ultimate reality now? Am I packing my figurative yoga bag with a lifetime of kindness and grace, patience and positive responses to the challenges that any life will bring?
Probably not enough, if I am being honest. I’ve done my best to be a good person. Most of the time. Except those times when I didn’t. When I was cranky or afraid or worried or embarrassed. Or tired or hungry. At those times, I might not have been imitating Jesus. I maybe was not even thinking about following his lead. I might have been wallowing in a self-absorbed pity-party. And I am going to guess (hope?) that other people may have a similar story. My belief is that God knows this, and understands it, but that we still need to set aside that self-focus and work a little harder to be who he needs us to be, who he knows we can be. We need to prepare, not just ourselves, but everyone we meet, that this is how it’s going to be one day: we’ll be looking out for each other and building each other up. If we get stranded, we’ll pull out our yoga bags and divvy up the scarves and protein bars---and there will be enough for everyone. We’ll really understand that we’re here for each other.
I guess Jesus never promised me that Indiana winters would not be cold. He just gave me enough sense to check with a weather app and enough compassion to think about others so that I can be ready for the challenge. I’m happy to share my protein bars.