It’s going to be a hard winter; there seems to be little doubt about it. We may enter another lockdown; churches and schools may close; the college football championship may be between the two teams with the fewest COVID cases. Some of us may be stuck inside more than we would like, forced to watch our large screen TVs while eating take-out food from our favorite restaurants and surfing the internet.
What do you think the early settlers thought as winter descended each year? Their cabins had no Wi-Fi, no electricity, no running water. They would have stored some provisions, but when they ran out, they would have to risk their lives for take-out, because they had to take-out their guns and shoot their food, and sometimes their food was hungry and wanted to eat them, and sometimes other humans in the woods wanted to shoot them too. They slept near an indoor fire, and sometimes they caught on fire. And like us, they could get influenza and die, although in their case it was sometimes impossible to find a doctor.
Yet as John Richards writes, “Aside from the hardships, settlers led a humble and happy life.” How? The answers are fairly simple. First, they probably looked back and were thankful that their lives were easier than those of prior generations. Second, since life was hard, they gave thanks for every small blessing. And third, they were able to separate their wants from their needs.
The Scripture above refers to the fact that as we get older and our bodies fail us, our spiritual lives can continue to improve ~ a good thing to balance the bad. In like manner, when outside circumstances threaten to derail us, our inner lives can come to our rescue. Many people are looking at the rising COVID numbers and the calendar and saying, “Oh no! How will we survive this?” Perhaps the answer is not found in survival, but in balance.
A recent story reported that 40% of Americans have gotten so good at cooking during the pandemic that they think they are ready to compete on Master Chef! This was a great use of pandemic time. We can make a plan now to balance the bad with the good – to make progress in one area while we feel we’re going backwards in another. For example, we might proclaim (even if the pandemic calms down) that this will be the winter we write a book, learn to cook, draw closer to God, call a different person each day, take up a new hobby, walk daily, or any other healthy thing that points us in a positive direction. Then when we look back on the winter we’ll be able to say, “Oh, that was the winter I learned how to can fruit preserves” (like a settler!) or “that was the winter I learned to appreciate music” or “that was the winter of 100 letters.”
If we make a plan to add something to our lives this winter, then we won’t mind as much if something is taken away. All that we have is temporary after all ~ save for the love of God, which is eternal, and is abundant enough to keep us going, in sickness and in health, in feast or in famine, no matter what the season.