The gloves are coming off . . . because it is spring here in Fargo!
I know it is springtime in Fargo when I can step out of my apartment with a light jacket, strappy high heels, and no mittens. You know it is springtime in North Dakota when I smile at the beaming sun, think about ditching my coat, and as I start up my jeep I smile at the temp and think “What a beautiful warm day!” Now if some of you checked your dashboard thermometer and saw 32 degrees you would be grumbling. But in Fargo with the sun shining and no wind there are bound to be people out in shorts today.
For the first time in, well who knows how long, Fargo found spring a week before the calendar told us too. March 20 tells us it is spring, but last week the high of 70 forecasts already told us it was coming. It was a weird winter. The schools never saw a snow day, some kids never took out their sleds, and only a few snowmen found their way into being. However, even though the snow was scarce the usual sub-zero temperatures were readily available.
Temperature is relative . . . well, relatively. It can be measured, but 32 degrees to a Minnesota born and now North Dakota resident is a spring day and to some of my southern squad mates it is a no good, terrible, horrible, very bad winter day. (Oh, and of course 32 degrees in March feels very different than 32 degrees in October! brrr)
The Bible takes a stance on our temperature rating. The following verse is one that I have grown to love, mostly because of the exegesis and the story behind it. I have heard many different interpretations of Revelation 3:14-22. There was one that I learned in college that stuck with me and I hope that James and I will carry its meaning with us as we go out on our mission trip to 11 different countries and unite them under one Kingdom.
“14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
I have been told, time and time again, that God would like us to be on fire for Him or be turned off from Him. I have heard it said that this verse tells us that God would rather have us not believe in Him than to be a wavering Christian who does nothing, knows nothing, and has no passion for their faith. However, in college I learned a deeper meaning that has stuck with me.
There is wisdom in the saying “Learn from your mistakes”. But I love the saying, “Learn from the mistakes . . . preferably someone else’s!” This verse in Revelation shows us one of the Laodiceans mistakes, and I am trying to learn from it.
Laodicea was a wealthy trade town. The people there had every luxury they could dream of. Well, almost. When Laodicea looked to their left they saw a neighboring city that had natural hot springs. People would visit there to find healing and relaxation. “Can I get HOT-TUB!” Thought the Laodiceans (reference to “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” commercial . . . anyone, anyone? I crack myself up).
When they looked to their right they saw a neighboring city that had naturally cool, refreshing water. People would visit there to be refreshed and rejuvenated in the fresh to freezing waters. And like a few of our Youth Group kids eager for the winter retreat the Laodiceans wanted to enjoy a Polar Plunge. They wanted that cold water as well.
My hubby’s ancestors must have lived in Laodicea (except this one was willing to work with plumbing, one of Jim-Dear’s least favorite jobs). They had their engineers and plumbers (not sure how they showed plumbers butt in their robes, but I’m sure they found a way) built a system of piping to bring the hot water and the cold water into their city so they could finally have it all.
However, hot water does not stay hot and cold water does not stay cold when it travels miles and miles. When these waters reached Laodicea they were stagnant, lukewarm, and good for nothing. No one even wanted to drink it. They would spit it out of their mouths.
“17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
These words about hot, cold, and lukewarm were poignant to the Laodiceans and they made an impact on me. There are days were I look at my life and feel truly blessed. I feel rich beyond measure. It is amazing how God provides for us! I have a very wonderful and relaxing life.
Oh . . . hold that thought, a commercial! Wait, that thing is cool. I want that. I wonder if I could afford it. I need it! How long until my birthday. I’ll post a link to it on Facebook and tag James in it for a little hintidy-hint-hint. Oh . . . look all of my friends have been traveling! I want to go on a fun vacation. I wonder how much room I have on my credit card. I want to go someplace warm. I need to go on a vacation. Look how stressed I am!!
“18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. “
Gold and possessions will do nothing for me in the end. However if I am refined by the fire of God I will become more precious than gold. If I clothe myself in the spirit that God gives me my life will bring glory instead of shame. If I just let God heal my eyes I may finally be able to look at this world without envy, without want, without jealousy. The Laodiceans were blessed, yet they wanted more. I am blessed, very blessed, yet being content with what I have can be hard.
When we leave in September we will leave with light-weight Bibles packed in our bags. I hope we also leave with this verse, and many others, packed away in our hearts. We will learn firsthand how blessed we truly are and how many things we take for granted.
Not only will we learn this about our physical possessions, but we will also learn to be content with the talents and gifts that the Lord has given us. If I have a spiritual gift, I should not be jealous of one of my teammates’ spiritual gifts. I hope to encourage them in their gifts as I rejoice and grow in my own. As we get to know people around the world I pray that we can show them how God can bless them with gifts and riches that go beyond this life.
Oh, how I truly hope that we can show many people the joy that awaits them in God’s embrace. It may not always be easy, as the next verses in Revelation tells us that discipline is a big part of this process. However, it ends with us being conquerors, sitting around a throne. What a glorious thought.
“19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
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