Today is Youth Day in South Africa. I have already posted a short video about Youth Day on YouTube, so I won’t say more about that today other than that 16 June 1976 was a terrible day that ought never to have happened. It did, though, and will always be remembered as the day when more than 500 youth were shot dead by the then-police. Although it was said our country was a “Christian” one, this terrible event proved we were not!
Today was one of those winter days. The bed magnets refused to release this morning, and if it were not for the normal morning routines (which includes breakfast), bed might have been the best option. The sky was overcast, the wind blew and little bits of rain fell every now and then. Should I work outside or in the shed today? No way … remaining inside was the very best option. The forecast for tomorrow is thunderstorms! What do we do when the weather is so chilly, we are in lock down and many of us are not back at work or don’t work?
We could clean the house, but even the cold water burns one’s hands. We could sweep or vacuum, but loading up with warm clothes makes the task awkward. We could switch on the heater, but under COVID-19 that might not be a good plan, because all too often sitting near a heater makes one sick. We could switch on the television and get under a blanket. The blanket is a good idea, but while television might entertain, it could be addictive and too much usage occupies far too much time space and mind space. So, what is the best way to handle these cold days that banish you inside?
Our children and grandchildren have found that board games can be very productive as it stimulates the mind and encourages fellowship and team work. Once Luke asked me to play a board game with them and I declined. He asked me why I won’t play, and I said tongue-in-cheek, “I cheat.” He never asked me again! Jenny can spend her time knitting and enjoy it. Others enjoy using extra time baking biscuits, cookies or rusks. Some people return to bed and sleep the day away. Many take up a good book and read. There are people who do things for others. Let me tell you what I tend to do on days like this. Remember today is a national public holiday, so there is time.
The first thing is to use more time with Bible in hand and in prayer.
Eph 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
John MacArthur in his commentary says “the helmet of salvation” refers to our security and assurance in Christ. The word “take” means to pick up and bring with you. In dealing with the enemy’s onslaught, the first thing to do is make certain your faith is secure, that you love Jesus and are certain of your salvation … then (part of taking up or bringing with you) is the use of the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. So, apart from doing your normal devotional reading, read a few extra chapters or passages of the Bible, but do so prayerfully. Think through what you are reading. Try and recite in your own words what you have read. It’s through this method that you can apply the Word and its meaning to your soul. Because the Word is so powerful and because the Word is the first defensive weapon, when used intelligently and constructively, it not only protects, it also warms the heart, and when the heart is warmed the icy days are more manageable. Then we use the second defensive weapon, which is prayer. Diligent commitment to intense prayer provides victory over the enemy … and warms the heart, getting you through the difficult times, even the cold days.
You could also try a word study.
You might not have a Greek-English lexicon or a Greek-English interlinear Bible, but you could, as you come across “difficult”, “unfamiliar” or “strange” words in the Bible, use a dictionary to get the secular and modern explanation of the word. You could also google sites like: Ligonier Ministries, Bible Study Tools, The Gospel Coalition, and Reformed.org (please be careful–there are many Christian webpages, but not all are reformed and evangelical). Word studies can warm the heart and distract you from the “freeze”.
You could write a Gospel message to a wife, husband, family member or friend.
I am not suggesting writing letters of doctrine or theology, neither am I suggesting you write notes of rebuke or correction. I am saying that letters or notes of encouragement, love and support could be very helpful. Many struggle with mild depression during winter months. You could motivate them with Psalms or other verses from Scripture that speak of the love and mercy of God and of your love and commitment to them.
Although cold, miserable, winter weather might put a real damper on life, using the above suggestion might help to refocus your attention on real and eternal matters that warm you spiritually, taking you away from the thoughts of winter misery.
Dear God, Your love is so beautiful. It warms my soul and encourages me to be more spiritual and more productive instead of being sidelined by my physical surroundings. Thanks you for this privilege. Amen.