To understand this post you must understand two things:
1. I am the pickiest person on God's green earth when it comes to clothes.
2. I live in Texas where winter isn't exactly inevitable and sometimes sneaks up to surprise you.
For the past three years I've been coat shopping, taking screen shots of coats I think might work, leaving five or six tabs open with possibilities. I've purchased coats and returned them the next day.
In the meantime I've worn what we might call a Texas coat, the kind you people in the middle of the country wear in fall. Which is fine, because most of Texas winter is just gloomy fall. But sometimes, mostly in the morning, the Texas coat doesn't cut it (especially as I've worn holes in the elbows).
The result of my no-coat reality has been significant. It has engendered a distinct disdain for winter. Every time the temperature drops below 45 I get cranky and reclusive. My girls say, "Let's go somewhere!" And I say, "It's freezing outside!" My husband says, "Let's walk to the restaurant." And I say, "Are you crazy?" Just thinking of being outside makes me fussy. Because it's cold outside.
And I don't have a coat.
One of my favorite moments in the entire Bible is the moment when God clothes Adam and Eve. They've just eaten the fruit, they've "realized they were naked," and they've born the long list of long-lasting consequences for their bad choice, including the coming eviction from the face-to-face presence of God in the garden. They must feel absolutely overwhelmed. It's just too much.
But then God breaks from the cursing and consequence-speaking to do something remarkably tender. Like a father of toddlers, He reaches down and dresses His kids.
Knowing the world they're about to face, He wraps Adam and Eve in His love and protection.
The fallen world really stinks a lot of the time. People die here. They get diseases. They fall and break bones. They mistreat one another. Sometimes they kill each other. Occasionally they shame one another so badly someone ends up wishing she were dead. People here often care more about being happy in the moment than they do about any other thing. They worship things and consume people. People on this fallen earth kidnap children, enslave women, and abuse the elderly.
It's often a rotten place to be (It's also lovely and beautiful, but we're not talking about that right now).
The world, I think, is a lot like winter. And experiencing it without Christ is a lot like not having a coat.
I finally broke down and bought a coat three or four weeks ago. It's army green with shearling inside. It's not the most beautiful coat ever, but it'll do. Because it's warm.
I bought it because I'd reached a breaking point. For the third day in a row temperatures were below forty, and I simply could not abide the cold for one second more (Please don't tell me how cold it is in Michigan. I decided not to live in Michigan for a reason.) So I drove to the outlet mall, ran from my car into the GAP and bought the only jacket in the women's department.
I walked out wearing it. Warm.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness." (Isaiah 61:10)
Th Apostle Paul said something similar:
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)
Like we sing in the song, "Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne..."
Living in this world, clothed in Christ, is like having a coat in the winter. The cold doesn't stop just because you have a coat. Life doesn't shift from Siberia to Fiji. But in wearing the coat, in being clothed by Christ in garments of salvation and robes of righteousness, we find protection, warmth, and comfort.
As you may know, I've had a particularly rough few weeks--deaths in the family, some financial drama, much traveling. I've been tired and overwhelmed and feeling just a little naked in the cold--like I was wearing a Texas jacket in Buffalo.
Yesterday a friend dropped off this at my house:
She called it a sunshine basket. I called it love.
Full of small, thoughtful gifts from more than a dozen friends, that basket reminded me of the power of Christ's love. In a moment I'd gone from feeling bare and vulnerable to feeling loved, supported and protected. I felt wrapped in love.
Weathering the world is easier with Christ. It's easier beside His people, people who will love, help, encourage, and inspire us. It's easier as we walk within the well-articulated path of His righteousness and easier because stepping outside that righteousness is quickly forgiven. It's easier because even when it's hard Christ offers hope for a better, not broken world. It's easier because in Christ and through Christ and under Christ we join and promote a Kingdom of light yokes and easy burdens.
Now that I have a coat, I don't mind the cold so much.