Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.
A night in November in East Tennessee can suddenly turn unexpectedly cold, especially if one is 8 and unsuspecting. I found myself sitting in a car one night, realizing my hooded sweatshirt wasn’t going to cut it. My father spotted me shivering. “Are you cold?” I didn’t want to admit it, but ... wow. Yes, I was cold. “Here,” he said, holding out his work coat. “There’s a zero hood in the pocket. Those will keep you warm while we wait.”
I draped the enormous coat over me and put my arms into the cavernous sleeves. He grabbed the zipper and pulled it up. The zipper seemed to go on forever. Would I ever grow into a jacket like this? Within seconds, I was warm. This was a work coat; designed to be lightweight, yet tough enough to handle the grime and sharp edges a world can throw around. I was warmer, tougher, and more like an adult for it, even if my arms were hidden well inside the sleeves.
Ask an Eastman kid: Most of us are acquainted with the old hard hats, coveralls, welding shirts, chore jackets, earplugs on cords, safety goggles, welder’s masks and work gloves that our parents account for as “safety equipment.” Too bad we can’t cover our hearts the same way against the challenges of this world — or can we?
We are all too familiar with the dirty jobs and sharp edges the world has waiting on us before our coffee even cools. How do we weather hostile environments such as these? It depends entirely on what we are willing to wear.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3: 12-14)
If I am a child of God, I must clothe myself with the characteristics of God the Father, and he is first and foremost, compassionate and kind. He is also patient and forgiving. With humility and self-control, He works to restore us all.
Even in hazardous environments, where our hearts and souls can take a beating, God’s ways carry us through, warm our hearts, and strengthen us for the work of the day. If we want to weather the storms, we must clothe ourselves in Christ.
Mike Beverly is pastor at Indian Springs Christian Church in Kingsport.