When I go to a department store in Midwest sub-zero temperatures, I expect to find hats, scarves, and warm mittens. Maybe even some thick long johns, if I’m lucky. Swimming isn’t usually on my family’s radar until the end of May. Where we live, January and February are best spent hibernating indoors. So when the arctic wind accompanies me through the automatic doors of the local store, I’m more than a little confused when I see swimsuits hanging on the racks where there should be something, anything to keep us all…warm.
Never mind that half the swimsuits on display lack sufficient material for summer coverage. If I even tried to jump in a pool in February, I’d transform on impact into an ice sculpture. What I’d really like to do is write the store managers behind the winter swimsuit displays and ask them if they actually live here in the Midwest. Because if they did, they’d know we don’t need swimsuits just about now. We need down coats and thermals.
This world can be a cold place. Even if you live in California. Or Hawaii. The bitter winds of life are strong enough to freeze a heart. And only love has the power to usher in life-giving warmth.
True love is relevant. It sees a need, and meets it—whether it be a kind word, a listening ear, a meaningful gift, or practical provision. It’s not like the Midwestern store owners who lack the relevance to meet their frozen customers’ actual needs. Love observes and understands, listens, hears, and sees—enough to know the deepest needs in a person’s life.
So when someone comes looking for encouragement or comfort, I hope they don’t find the equivalent of department store swimsuits in the sub-zero Midwest winter. My prayer is that my words and actions will bring warmth enough to usher a mid-winter thaw into a frozen heart—that what I say and do will wrap them in the life-transforming power of love.