About December time, meaning now, all my fashion concerns fly out the window in the face of bitter cold. I don my huge white down vest, my fleece lined jeans, and Uggly boots solely because they are warm. They are not attractive. My husband makes endless jokes about tire mascots and marshmallows. I laugh…because I am warm.
I’m no martyr. I run the heat in winter, the cold in summer and fork the money over to the energy company but the cold and the hot still leak into my life. The market is outside come bitter cold or rank heat. Schools may heat classrooms sometimes but not hallways. My home would rank “death star” or “black hole” on the energy star ratings. It has no insulation. Baby, it’s cold outside…and inside too!
For years we bought technologically advanced cold weather gear and still do. State of the art long underwear. Polartec jackets. Goretex. They serve a purpose especially in the cold rain, but one summer I saw nainais (grandmas) knitting furiously in the heat. Wool sweaters. Wool pants. Hmmm. They informed me that hand knit wool is much warmer than store-bought.
I hate knitting. I tried to knit once. The only thing I knit were my eyebrows. But when my daughter bundled up for school in the winter months and no amount of layers kept her warm, I realized I knew nothing about dressing for the weather.
No amount of technologically advanced long underwear could compete with the real deal–hand knit wool pants and sweaters. She skipped the coldest part of the school year when a layer of ice lay in the sinks all day. We couldn’t keep her warm. Chinese wasn’t worth frostbite and it was too late to learn how to knit.
I notice the same foolishness in my spiritual life too. I’m spiritually cold and I want warmth. Or I’m hot with conviction and I want some relief. I look for the new idea or the new way to pursue God thinking new is better, new is more effective. The new way to pray. The new way to fast. The new way to live simply. There is no shortage of “new” in the Christian bookstore and I fall for it sometimes.
But there is so little that is truly new. The old ways restore, feed, and penetrate deepest. Reading my Bible slowly. Talking to God like the child I am. Admitting how often and far I fall short and then receiving the grace He freely gives. Enjoying the people of God’s family in all their unique and different ways. It’s like putting on my down vest, wool sweater, and sheepy slippers in winter. I am so thankful for sheep! And, go ducks, too!
There is not much new in the world and I smile at that. God gave us what we needed from the beginning. He held nothing back and still doesn’t. What a great God!