Our thermometer read nine below zero this morning. The double doors that open onto our south-facing deck are frozen shut. A crust of frost along the bottom of the inside of each door led to a rolled blanket on the floor in front of them. I spent most of the day at my computer in front of a south-facing window where cold sunlight streamed in. I was tempted to bemoan the weather–I mean, really what could be worse than a barely respectable skiff of snow coupled with below zero temperatures.
But the picture a tiny baby in the manger, whose birth we celebrated only a few days ago, reminded me of a scandalous truth that stopped my grumbling before it could gain steam, and one holy thought derailed my discontent. On the worst weather day of the year, my circumstances are far more comfortable than those that greeted God who came to earth in the form of a baby.
Even after factoring in the warmer climate of Jesus’ birthplace and the likelihood that He was born in spring, the stable where He was born remains a less hospitable place than my cozy home in winter. Face to face with the sacrifice of Christ that began with His meager birth and ended with His death on the cross, my dissatisfaction transformed into gratitude and wonder, honor and praise. I found myself humming the melody of And Can It Be? and searching for the lyrics online. Once found, the words of the third verse mirrored my thoughts precisely.
He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!
I can take no credit for the reversal in my train of thought. The turn from ingratitude to joy is not natural for me or for you. We can’t negotiate a mindset change by ourselves. It is only accomplished when we recognize and confess our weakness, when we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the mind of Christ as we seek to honor Him in the most mundane or uncomfortable situations.
This is a worthy endeavor for a new year, one we can pursue in complete confidence because it is in God’s will. Certainly we will fail at times, and certainly our best efforts will be imperfect. But just as certainly, God will be pleased by our desire to honor Him. And next year in the dead of winter, we will look back and rejoice to see how deeply His Spirit has changed our hearts in 365 days.
“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God…
But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2: 14, 16
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