“I hate going in there.”
My co-worker mumbled under her breath as we pulled on jackets. Although the current temperature in Tampa hovered around 80 degrees, we needed an extra layer of clothing to go through the imposingly large door leading into the kitchen freezer.
Tuesday was delivery day, and my co-worker and I had to organize the boxed-up food inside the stainless steel tomb of numbness. When I go inside the bedroom-sized freezer I try not to think about the dozens of movies I’ve seen portraying some poor person meeting their icy end in a walk-in freezer.
Cease and desist, vivid imagination!
(Thankfully, the door doesn’t lock.)
We passed through the first large door and the temperature dropped shockingly fast. 75 plummeted to 40 then finally dipped numbingly close to zero inside the freezer. As we started organizing boxes, I blew out a deep breath and watched the air dance in smoky gray. The breath cloud slowly dissipated as glimpses of my childhood in Connecticut emerged across the horizon of memory.
Like a midnight December snowfall, youthful memories drifted down softly, steadily.
Simple childlike prayers sent heavenward the night before a storm, praying for homework-free days filled with sledding and dirty snow boots, cold wrists numbed by infiltrating snow and a sky popping with the brightest shade of blue on God’s paint brush.
And, oh the quiet. How I remember the beautiful silence after a night full of snow, the morning sun blinding the eyes to all but pure white while the ears hear nothing but moments of life.
I lived in Sandy Hook for eleven years, and it’s seared into my soul. The woods, the snow, the cold are all part of me.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. ~ Deuteronomy 4:5-7
After a couple minutes moving boxes around and organizing the freezer, my co-worker shook her head and headed back through the door. I nodded, understanding. It was finger-numbing cold and our sweaters weren’t much protection for Florida-thinned blood.
For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You. ~ Psalm 71:5 & 6
A couple minutes later I burst through the walk-in door back into the kitchen.
“How’d you stay in there that long?” The sweater hood fell over her eyes, nearly to her nose, and I smiled at her bundled up image. She shivered.
“I don’t mind it. I guess it’s in my blood.” I shrugged off the jacket.
When I was 7 I asked Jesus into my heart, acknowledging my need for a Savior. I remember that afternoon clearly, the green stripes on our living room couch and the bare brown trees outside the front windows in our Vermilion-colored Cape Cod. It was the beginning of a life-long journey that shapes everything I do and say and am.
The cold became part of me in my childhood, and my faith in Jesus did as well.
Almost 30 years later I realize over and over and over how much I need Him. I see how patiently and grace-fully God guided my life and never left me when I strayed from Him. I’m past the grateful stage that the faith my parents introduced, talked about, and lived out has frozen deep in my my soul.
“Oh God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. ~ Psalm 71:17
As I watch our boys grow up tall and strong and much too quickly, I pray God’s word will lead them all the days of their life. I pray for wisdom to train them in the Way they should go. And I pray their love for Jesus will freeze inside their souls, their faith in Him settling deep, so deep it becomes part of who they are.