Baxter gets cozy when the weather gets cool. I have noticed the change in his behavior the past week when the mornings have had a little bit of a brisk edge. During the summer he staked out his own turf in the house, and for the most part, he didn’t want to be bothered by me or anyone. He wanted only to lie in the various spots he claimed for his own, a solitary mound of fur content with his privacy. “Leave me to my own world” was his clear and persistent message through the warm and lazy days of summer.
But now he is sending a different message. To put off the chill of the early morning, Baxter now wants a place on my lap. Of course, he picks the place, and this choice sometimes takes a few exploratory circles around my lap until he finds just the right spot. Then it’s plop, purr and the picture of contentment as he snuggles to stay warm. Actually, this is a very symbiotic arrangement for the two of us. Once he is settled, Baxter is like a lap blanket for me, sharing his higher body temperature to stave off the chilly morning. In a cold environment, two can make a warmer place if they share their space.
The same holds true for God and God’s children in a cold world. Too often we try to make it on our own in this world. We have to show that we are tough, independent and able to stand on our own two feet. So we isolate ourselves and work out our discipleship and its challenges alone. We take care of ourselves, and don’t ask for help or companionship. We prove our worth by showing that we don’t need anyone to deal with the cool reception that often comes with being a believer today.
But there is another way. To combat the cold, share the warmth of God’s love by allowing God to get close. He won’t growl. He won’t push you away. He won’t feel you are intruding on His space. He will welcome the opportunity to get close and share what each of us has to offer to bring warmth to a cold situation. God’s lap is large enough for everyone to find a place to feel at home and comfortable. But we need to realize that it’s cold out there and that we need a little help to stay warm.
Only a warm believer is a credible one. Standing aloof from the weaknesses of others only says that we are out of touch with our own vulnerable humanity. Staying isolated from the complex problems of today’s world only says that we are afraid of our confusion and uncertainty. Thinking that our faith is self-sufficient only raises doubts about its authenticity, because faith is first a gift, if it is true at all. It takes our knowing the warmth of God’s love to communicate a message that attracts others and invites them to share our space.
Holiness doesn’t have to be cold to be true. More often than not, a cold spirituality is hiding something not of God, but of our own troubled soul. God reveals Himself for who He is—a loving Father who takes the world in His lap to hand it over to His Son for healing and forgiveness through His cross. The Son, in turn, releases the warmth of the Spirit to renew the face of the earth. As fall brings a chill to our mornings, say a prayer for the warmth of God’s love to touch you, and through you, others.