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A Late-Season Frost

OK, here in Missouri, frost in May might not be all that unusual, but after several weeks of warmer temperatures a cold snap is a little shocking to the senses. Dad always told me that if I didn’t like the weather in Missouri, (I grew up in St. Louis), give it an hour and it would most likely be different. That’s even more likely during the change seasons of spring and autumn. When the temps bounce around it makes it difficult to know when to turn off the pilot light in the furnace and when to put air conditioners in the windows.

When I was a kid, we had a summer place north of St. Louis on the Mississippi river which we called, “The River.” On weekends, (and for two weeks in the summer), we would go to – the river. It was a great place for young boys, we learned to boat and fish and jacklight frogs on sticky summer nights, we could sneak a cigarette or a beer that someone swiped from a neighbor’s outdoor fridge and basically get away with all the Huckleberry Finn things that boys are wont to do. Bur I remember the mornings, even in the summertime, where the floors would be really cold and mom would bake something early for breakfast primarily to get some heat in the house.

Because the sun would bring the temperature up to just below sweltering by 2:00 in the afternoon, and because dad was, well… dad, he never thought it necessary to light the furnace in that little house that sat on stilts by the Mississippi riverside. Today reminds me of those mornings. The day will warm up as the afternoon comes on and the sun will heat the house as it begins to shine in the southern windows of the living room but a hot cup of coffee sure felt nice in my Renaud’s afflicted finger-tips this morning. As I’m having my cup of morning warmth I think about how God melts our hearts so that we might be brought to the knowledge of His saving grace while allowing us to have an occasional late-season frost to keep us mindful of from whence we came.

In Proverbs 16:18 we read, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (KJV). The late-season frost is a little like that; we get anxious to be right with God and forget how bad we really are, or at least can be if left to our own devices. We get saved by grace and then after a while we can begin to get haughty about our eternal security, forgetting that we are never too far from our last fall and closer than we might think to the next. The proof that we are haughty about it, is simply that we are surprised when we discover the warm heart we think we have, has exhibited the symptoms of a late-season frost. We start to think that we have it all figured out, only to discover that we really don’t.

We see the annuals in the garden department of the local store and can’t wait to plant our gardens even though the threat of frost is not past. We buy them, plant them, watch the frost kill them and start all over again. It’s like we think that by planting the delicate blooms of springtime, we can force the weather to bend to our will. That is no more possible than to force our goodness by proclaiming our faith. Anything good within us is something given by a loving God, a faithful Saviour, and we have no hand in forcing anything about it. We can hang a cross around our neck and wear the WWJD bracelet without ever affecting our natures. Yet, when the next bad thing happens, something WE think is unwarranted, we wonder why our cross and bracelet didn’t help us. Faith is not a thing that we can put on like a piece of jewelry, faith is something that has to grow within us and then only by the will of God and through the power of His Holy Spirit.

If we ever think that we have arrived, God will allow something into our lives to show us exactly how far we are from being the likeness of Christ. God will send a late-season frost into our lives to show us that we aren’t all that we might imagine ourselves to be. God is a gentleman though and the frost that reminds us of our own failings is not a hardened freeze that stops us in our tracks; it only gives us pause to consider the truth of the fallen and fallible beings we are. Unlike a flower, a late season frost doesn’t kill us, but is actually beneficial for our growth.

I have stated elsewhere that our growth occurs on the valleys of our lives and that the hill-top experiences are given as respites in our journey, similarly; we work harder to follow the pattern of Jesus whenever we realize how far from it we are. If we begin to think we’re right in line with everything we need to be, then God allows a late-season frost to whip in and wake us up to the reality that we are esteeming ourselves too highly. When we reach out for the Saviour it can be like wrapping our frosted fingers around a hot mug of coffee, we take warmth from the Giver of Life and renew the direction of our walk so that He may be glorified.

We can never forget that it took God to melt our hard and frozen hearts and we have to remember that we are never too far from the icy blast that can frost our hearts over again. We have been given the gift of warm renewal but we are responsible to make sure to consider just how close we stand to the door of the freezer that is all too ready to harden our hearts again. We read in Genesis 4:7b, “… sin is crouching at your door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Our hard and frozen hearts have been, by grace, thawed and given new purpose but the cold desires of the enemy wait for us to fall in our prideful confidence so we must be ever mindful that a late-season frost can be lurking around every next turn.

I have seen late-season frosts kill the blooms of the fruit trees and leave the branches bare for the entire season; we must guard ourselves so that we are not left without fruit because of a late-season frost in our lives. We cannot allow our hearts to be stricken with the freeze of a late-season frost so that we lose our fruit and become unable to show the world the good work that is being done in us thanks to the faith we have in the sacrifice of the Son of God at Calvary. Our witness is more than our own, it is the testimony of God in our lives; the story of redemption afforded us through the death and resurrection of Jesus, for our sake.

I believe that the reasons that we are given the occasional slips, the comeuppances, the late-season frosts, are to keep us vigilant in our walks with the Lord. We are to follow the steps of Jesus, not try to get ahead of the Master and mark out a path for Him. We must be mindful to keep ourselves in our proper places because if we forget and allow ourselves to think we are better than we are, God will surely show us our folly. God has a way of righting the ship, of correcting the course, of surprising us with a late-season frost just at the time when we need it most. But when the frost comes, it’s nice to consider that the same frost that stung our finger tips will quickly melt into the drops of water that will nurture our continued growth, bringing us closer to being a people who can better serve…

All for the Glory of Christ

A Cup?

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