When I was a kid our Sunday School teachers always described hell as that place with red hot flames, boiling cauldrons of tortured souls, flowing lava, and a skinny (I guess so you could differentiate him from Santa Claus) red guy with an evil, lecherous grin, horns and a pitchfork.
This week – with record breaking temperatures in the single digits and wind chill factors below zero – I have pretty much decided that hell is probably bitter cold with non-stop blustery winds. And Satan is the only one wearing a North Face parka.
The old (old – like my age) guy we gave a ride to Sunday morning wasn’t wearing a parka. I can only assume he doesn’t own one – because he wasn’t wearing one. I can only assume he doesn’t own a car – because he wasn’t driving it. Here is what I do know: He works night work near Sam’s Club in east York. He lives near the river in Wrightsville. He walks both ways – 8 miles EACH way – EACH day. In the bitter cold, without transportation, without adequate clothing – he walks to work – in order to keep his job.
It made me sad. It actually made me cry.
But the really sad part of the whole incident is that I had heard the exact same story about a man in the mid-west somewhere just last week. The story on the radio made me sad. But it didn’t make me cry. I listened to it and thought about it a little bit – but I didn’t pay attention to the bitter reality the first time because I didn’t actually have to look the reality in the eye.
It’s a whole different story when the story is sitting right beside you, shivering from the cold.
I think it was a good lesson in gratitude as well. Sure – I ‘m thankful, well mostly…..okay – sometimes….. – ALRIGHT – not nearly enough! But Sunday – gratitude came VERY easily for me. A warm home (with a furnace), a functioning car (with a heater), good, solid winter weather gear (long johns, boots, a scarf and mittens)…..heck I even have a sweet little heating pad for when my feet get cold at night. Gratitude should come that readily every day.
Sometimes I think God puts “wake up” calls in our lives on purpose. I need to be a better person. I need to pay attention to what is going on outside instead of dwelling on the little inconveniences inside my life. I want to remember to be grateful not just for the “big stuff’ but for EVERYTHING that God provides each and every day.
“In that day you will say: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.'” Isaiah 12:4