The last several days have been brutal as far as the weather is concerned here in central Indiana. And while we hit temperatures of -12 F on Wednesday morning, our friends and family to the north, near Chicago, had it much worse – about -23 F – and there were indications that we could be setting new records for a cold snap as the polar vortex made its way south from northern Canada.
While we have experienced some inconsistencies with our furnace during the last month, we have been fortunate that everything seems to be working fine this past week. It’s one of the things that we have taken for granted during the five years that we have lived here. In fact, the home we live in was originally built by an engineer who worked for Rolls Royce and, quite frankly, he really got into the design of this house. For example, there are no water pipes on any of the outside walls except for the garden hose connections outdoors so we are fortunate that we don’t have to worry about leaving cabinet doors open and keep the faucets trickling overnight to avoid freezing pipes anywhere in the house.
We are also fortunate in that we have fireplaces and can augment our furnace if we need to during extremely cold times. Back in our younger days, we also had kerosene heaters for emergencies in several of our homes when the electricity wasn’t as reliable as it is now, but it probably still makes sense for us to add a generator so we can have power in the event of an emergency. We are more fortunate than most people – and we don’t take that for granted.
We are blessed – there is no question about it. Almost everything is automated – even the various heating and cooling zones in our house. Periodically, in the middle of the night, I can hear the small motors whirring – closing certain dampers and opening other ones in the house to make sure the distribution of heat is right. Honestly, the system is far too complex for us to navigate, so we just set the temperature and forget it. Maybe that was the whole idea when the house was built. I’m sure that the heating and cooling system could do far more than we use it for, but then again, it was designed by an engineer who had a real passion for all things mechanical and technical.
On a broader note dealing with weather, the various city governments near us shut down earlier in the week due to cold, but many of them also let the public know that there were warm places to go that would be available in the event that families in the community were without power or heat. Remarkably, they weren’t very well attended. And then there are the food pantries that help provide sustenance for people, as well as for the federal government workers who were without pay for about a month.
Yesterday morning, Janet and I were discussing the plight of those who are homeless. In fact, we prayed for them. As much as we think that we may have trouble with our situation, there were many people who just didn’t have any place to stay and that is when it is even more important to make sure we do all we can to assist them. Whether it is donating money, or food – or delivering stuff to shelters, it is important that we don’t forget the least of our neighbors. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live on the street without food or warmth. It takes a crisis for most people to really reach out.
It’s gratifying to me that in times of trouble, people tend to pull together and help one another. Why can’t this just be the normal situation every day? Yesterday afternoon, Goodwill even sent out a notice by email about the stuff at their stores – they even offered me a discount! How terrible it is that it takes an emergency to bring people together to help one another. And this is not the biblical mandate that we are to follow.
Our verse for tonight highlights the thoughts of Jesus on this topic. We are told, in Matt. 25:34-40, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to get along and to help one another – not only in times of trouble but every day! My prayer is that we would all be more aware of our surroundings and ways that we can help those less fortunate. After all, within the context of humanity, we are all family. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…