I was reading an article on the internet this morning about new uniforms created for the Russian Army by a top fashion designer. While the suits are thinner and more chic, hundreds of servicemen have been hospitalized from flu and pneumonia due to the new snazzy uniform’s inability to withstand the Arctic chills that sweep through the country’s northern reaches. The soldiers claimed that they “literally felt naked outside.”
Monday night….I identified with those soldiers as my wife and I attended Disney’s Candlelight Processional at an outdoor theatre in Epcot. It was cold…I don’t mean the kind of cold that makes you reach in the closet and grab your windbreaker. I mean the kind of cold that requires layers of clothing. Extra socks. Gloves. Two Jackets. Scarves. Thermal underpants. The kind of cold that makes going to the restroom a major ordeal and the kind of cold that reminds you why you moved to Florida in the first place.
I don’t use the term “idiot” lightly because I feel it is both demeaning and non-becoming of a man who has been set aside by Christ for the call of the Ministry. With that being said, I noticed several “idiots” who showed up for the evening’s festivities wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and shorts. While I spent much effort and energy into making sure I was prepared to brave the elements of the cold…they spent little to no investment time. They had no chance of being warm. They were totally exposed. Then there were the few people I noticed who at least made an attempt to be warm…but made the horrible mistake of leaving large parts of their body unprotected. The woman with the ski-jacket and the mini-skirt….or the man with a vest on thick enough to stop a bullet over a thin t-shirt with no jacket, gloves….just fully exposed arms.
Like the soldiers….they were probably much snazzier and chic than I…..but like the soldiers, would probably find themselves in a hospital somewhere in the near future due to flu or pneumonia. As I sat there in my multiple layers….I admit that I snickered and laughed as I shook my head in judgment. The cold air was about to attack these people and they were not protected or ready to withstand the chill it was about to send them. As I sat and watched the program….and as time went on….I too began to notice a small chill. I first noticed it around my ankles. The next place I noticed was around my neck. My seat was cold so I had to sit on my scarf…which now left my neck wide open to the winds effects. At first…I was able to fight off the chill….but over time….the wind hitting my neck and ankles begin to spread throughout my body. While I was completely covered from head to toe….what had started as a little chill had me sitting and shaking and full on…..freezing. By the end of the Hallelujah chorus….I was singing hallelujah through chattered teeth as I was so excited for the event to be over. Like the soldiers…I literally felt naked outside.
As I was leaving the park, it was a humbling experience. I had found myself in the same place as the guy with shorts and the lady with the mini-skirt….frozen solid. While I am sure they got to the point of misery much quicker than I….the outcome was the same. We all three ended up miserable. I had prepared myself for the elements….but in my preparation…I had left small areas of weakness. And while I thought I was ready to fight the chill…..I found that I truly was only as strong as my weakest point. The weakest point is where the wind attacked….and while those areas might have seemed small and insignificant at first….it wasn’t long before the chill overtook my whole body.
The spiritual application did not fall short on me. Be careful not to be judgmental. Our little sins…the unguarded areas in our lives have the possibility to grow and produce as much devastating damage as the blatant stances against God we see in others….we judge in others….and sadly sometimes even we covet in others.
May we ask God to show us our areas of weakness. May we allow His power to make those areas less susceptible to the cold winds that blow. May we not be judgmental when we see lives that stand boldly opposed to the truths that we believe, but may we rather pray for them, have empathy on them, and even speak against the wind in their lives out of the power of the name from who we serve. May we put on the full armor of God each and every day and may we identify with the preparation of a Russian soldier, but not identify with his attire. May the days where you feel naked outside due to the choices that you make be few and far between. May you simply trust in God.
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:1-4
Discipleship Thought created 12/19/10