This midwestern girl is no stranger to snow. But my heart does not beat faster at the first sign of snowflakes. I don’t ski. I dread it, this point in winter where everything is still frozen but also somehow slushy and dirty and icy but brown.
So you might have been surprised to see me tobogganing in Wisconsin a few weekends ago on a frozen lake with my husband, ultimately flipping over and laughing heartily with him.
Jesus. That’s why.
Every year we take junior high and high school students to a winter weekend camp. We were roped into it years ago, and the tradition has stuck with varying results. Some years we’ve gone and had no snow and a watery lake, some years (like this year) we have bitterly cold temperatures where I’m constantly scolding children to put on a hat while cheering on the broom ball teams.
This year the speaker, while geared to the younger crowd, caught my attention. He worked through Romans 12 with them and as always, the Word of the Lord had something for me in there to learn as well.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:12-13, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” He wants us to do a lot of things in Romans 12, but these few stuck and continue to stick in my mind and attitude.
Our household has had a lot this year already. We’ve had COVID and had our toilet pipes freeze. We’ve had friends in ministry suffer and families we know separate. We’ve had more than an average number of church members in the hospital for wild reasons. As I came to a breaking point this past week, I realized I was not rejoicing in hope like I should. I was missing one of these things and I remembered an important point the speaker made, “You are not the center of your life – God is.”
When we center our lives around the Lord, all of these things, hope, patience, and prayer, work together in a wonderful relationship of bringing glory to God.
The speaker also did a great job talking to the students about how they, as youth, can show hospitality and use their gifts, but I know that’s different for those of us in ministry. Using our gifts is also our vocation; hospitality is our mission and the very core of our daily lives.
It was a great reminder that when I have the three things from verse 12, then and only then am I able to continue to serve and show hospitality to the best of my ability.
When I remembered to infuse hope, patience, and prayer into my week, suddenly the three meals I made double or triple batches of to spread around to those in need didn’t seem so daunting. The rearranging of my already busy schedule to accommodate the also hectic schedule of the college couple who needed premarital counseling didn’t seem a burden. I didn’t avoid the call I normally may have from a particularly chatty parishioner who I know is a bit lonely. It turns out I received an extra helping of grace to then pour out unto others.
It doesn’t change my circumstances. It’s still winter; there’s still hurt and sin. But I’m able to praise the Lord in these hard circumstances with a peace that I know can only come from Him. I can rejoice in the hope that soon there will be spring, literally and figuratively.
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