This winter has been colder than most.
Those who heat by electric or gas are probably seeing a big difference in their bills.
We see it in a mostly depleted fire wood shed because, we heat our house entirely by burning logs in a wood stove.
It puts out lots of heat, and some places like the balcony/ loft are extraordinarily warm.
But even though I said we heat our house with wood, the truth is we don’t heat every room nearly as warm as you might like it. Especially at night when it is down in the 20 degree Fahrenheit range.
There is after all, only so much wood that can be burned in one night.
So what do you do?
First, you learn how to wear warm clothes, particularly layers. Second, you wear socks at night. (I dislike socks at any time, and wearing them at night has been a big adjustment. Well, maybe calling it a big adjustment is over stating the case, all things considered, but I digress.) And third, you recognize that sleeping well on an icy cold night requires a nice, big, thick, and fluffy comforter.
I bet you know the kind.
There is something wonderfully comforting about a comforter. Pulled up to your chin, a comforter gives warmth. But more than just warmth, there is a sense of bliss, peace, and wellness when under a favorite and much loved comforter.
Ours is a down-filled, heavy, white affair… and I wouldn’t trade it for much of anything.
There is no comfort like that of a comforter…
But this isn’t really about exalted blankets no matter how much we might love them.
This is, however, an issue of our understanding about God.
We are accustomed to expressing God in terms of Father, Son, and Holy Spirt. The knowledge of Abba, Father gives confidence and assurance. The sacrifice of Jesus as the Son of God allows for mercy, grace, and salvation.
And the Holy Spirit? If the truth be uttered, from the perspective of the Christian in the pew, we are not quite so sure about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter told those who would listen that they should Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Christians have discussed, debated, and argued over this gift, what it means, how it’s received, and what we might possibly do with it. I confess. I don’t have all the answers. I am not the go-to-guy to compare and thrash out differing theologies—at least on this topic. On the other hand, I do believe in the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of every Christian.
How does that work out?
Here’s one aspect in particular: If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:15-17 KJV)
Other versions use words such as counselor, helper, advocate, and friend where the KJV uses comforter.
Whichever you prefer, they all speak to a presence in our lives that gives strength and encouragement—comfort if you will.
In the aftermath of the double murder that devastated my world, comfort was a hard thing to come by. I saw peace nowhere. I felt hope nowhere. I only could see and feel unrelenting pain and horror.
Eventually, I began to again recognize the comfort of God. That comfort grows stronger even still. But for the longest time, I also struggled mightily with where God was as Karen and Cole suffered through that final agonizing fifteen minutes of fighting for their lives. I tormented myself day and night wondering what Cole understood and needing to know how much terror Karen felt.
Several people tried to get me to understand that in the fight to survive, there wasn’t much time or place for reflecting on fear. That helped, but wasn’t quite the comfort I desired.
As time passes and opportunity to reflect is easier to do, I have begun comforting myself with a particular vision of the Comforter. I don’t know how accurate my take might be in the final analysis, but this is what I have chosen to believe:
In those final graphic moments, I am certain the Comforter was there. They were not alone. I believe that somehow someway, they were being shielded from the pain. And, I hold on to the hope that in those final moments, they were already on their way Home.
I long to continue knowing and feeling the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Until the Lord returns, I trust we will somehow experience the comfort only the Comforter can bring. Our helper, advocate, counselor, and friend…
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music
Thank you for reading,
Les Ferguson, Jr.