The Gift of Warmth
Have you ever been cold? The kind of cold where it seems like you can't get warm? Learn how the Gift of Warmth is one of the greatest gifts of all...and how you can give it.
…For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest, I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. …
Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important
brothers of mine, you did them for me!
It has been my experience that if an appliance is going to quit working it happens at the most inopportune time … temperatures in the triple digits, and the air conditioning stops working … or temperatures in the single digits and the hot water heater breaks or the heat goes out. We are suddenly inconvenienced in comfort and schedule, as what we consider necessities are repaired and/or replaced. I have experienced all of those scenarios.
At the time I wrote this devotion, I had no heat in frigid single digit temperatures. I managed to stay somewhat warm, but my thoughts went to those without heat, or without a roof over their heads at this time of year. Not just in other parts of the world, but in my own city. And I was filled with compassion for their struggles. I am merely inconvenienced and uncomfortable for 24 hours, while they know much longer periods of time being so. When the workman got the heat going again, my home filled with warmth, I was flooded with gratitude. In that moment, I couldn’t help but think of the warmth of God’s love for us.
We go through life in the dark and in the cold…lost in the sin that lures us with promise of satisfaction, the fears that keep us from living in freedom, a culture that rewards us for the cowardice of conformity and the competition of comparison. We feel alone and isolated in our despair, depression, and/or pain. Yet, we don’t even know we are in the dark until the light of God’s love shines on our lives.
We don’t even know our hearts are frozen until the warmth of God’s love floods our souls from the inside out. We are so used to trying to fix things from the outside-in. But God’s love works from the inside-out. When we let God into our heart and our life, He begins to transform us from the inside-out. He begins a work in us that we could have never dreamed or imagined … and so much better than we could have dreamed or imagined!
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no one’s heart has imagined
all the things that God had prepared for those who love Him.”
I Corinthians 2:9
I have experienced The Lord working in my heart, mind, life, relationships, and circumstances … from the inside-out. As I grow in my relationship with The Lord, it is His love and grace, more than anything else, which transforms my heart. I find myself responding differently, loving more, forgiving easier, accepting others, seeking peace, sharing hope, giving more, reaching out with words of encouragement, showing little acts of kindness. I still have a long way to go, but as His love and grace continues to transform my heart and therefore, my life, I have come to realize that without The Lord, I can do nothing that is of lasting worth and value. I cannot heal myself. I cannot change myself. I desperately need Him in every area of my life. Jesus Christ spoke of this when He said,
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Those who stay united with me, and I with them,
are the ones who bear much fruit;
because apart from me you can’t do a thing.
…This is how my Father is glorified – in your bearing much fruit.
John 15:5 and 15:8
Nashville, as many other cities all over the country, and in the world, has a homeless population. Given the enormity of this situation, it's all too easy to become jaded and impersonal. If I look at the situation nationally or globally, it can feel a bit overwhelming to try to make a difference. But if I look at this situation through the life of one personal individual, then I know that I really can somehow make a difference.
Let me share a story with you. There are several homeless people in Nashville who write and publish a newspaper entitled, The Chronicle. They sell the papers for $2.00 each and the proceeds go to help support them. Every day - rain, wind, snow or sunshine, many of these determined individuals are on designated street corners in downtown Nashville selling their newspaper. I respect them for their tenacity and dedication, especially when the weather is bad.
When I worked in downtown Nashville, day after day I passed by a woman selling papers while on my way to pick up coffee or lunch. She would get my attention with a smile and a cheerful, “Hello!” One day, my conscious got the best of me and I bought The Chronicle newspaper from her.
I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how, and a couple dollars really seemed like nothing. What I mean is that I can give money directly or through charities, which I do, but it won’t solve the entire problem of homelessness or poverty. I can’t speak for others, but I know for myself, it is easy to look at the big picture, feel overwhelmed, and think that I can do little or nothing to affect an outcome. Yet one-by-one-by-one-by-one, we each make a difference. And the truth is, the outcome is not up to us, it’s up to God. Our part is to be obedient to what He calls us to do.
Summer turned to autumn and the autumn days became shorter and colder before winter took us by surprise with freezing temperatures, wind, snow, and ice. One morning, I was on my way to get coffee, and I spontaneously stopped to ask if she would like some also. She replied that she would, so I asked what size and how she liked her coffee. When I gave her the cup of coffee, the gratitude she expressed warmed my heart, and I felt like I had just given her a treasure. After that, whenever she saw me in the morning as I walked toward the building where I worked, she would wave at me to say “Hi”. That gesture alone touched my heart. A few mornings later, it was especially cold and I could tell she was not warm enough, so I made a cup of coffee and took it to her. This time, while touching her arm, I looked in her eyes and asked her name and told her mine. Again, I was near tears and swallowed down the lump in my throat as I walked back inside to the warmth and comfort of the building.
I couldn’t get her out of my mind, so I began praying for her by name … and realized that I could make a difference in someone’s day, or even someone’s life – because we don’t know what is going on in someone else’s world - by simply smiling and providing a hot cup of coffee. I never expected to feel so overcome with compassion and love for this woman. I have been through a lot and have overcome significant challenges and obstacles in my life, and as a result, I realize that attitude is a choice. And I cannot help but respect this woman who stands on the sidewalk selling papers day after day, smiling, laughing, talking with people, waving with the enthusiasm of a child, and expressing such gratitude for something as simple as a cup of coffee.
While the story and illustration are simple, I want to challenge us to resolve to share the warmth of God’s love with others, perhaps in seemingly simple ways. I encourage you to take a personal inventory of areas where you can be more patient, forgiving, accepting, encouraging, kinder and loving. Areas where you can extend grace. What would your life look like if you allowed the warmth of God’s love to fill you from the inside-out and radiate into the lives of all those who know and meet you?
May you know how broad, how long, how high,
and how deep is God’s love for you!
One of the many benefits of Christian Life Coaching is proving the support you need to find hope as well as any helping you move forward in any areas where you feel stuck. To learn more about how we can support you in this process, you can schedule HERE for a no-obligation Create a Life You Love Discovery Session.
This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.
Jennifer Stone-Sexton © 2022. Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credits: Cover Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash | Photo 1 by Morgan Howard | Photo2 by Matt Collamer on Unsplash | Photo 3 by Jon Tyson on Unsplash | Photo 4 by Kate Laine on Unsplash |
Photo 4 by Morgan Howard