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by Dr. Chris Williamson
I was on my knees praying at the foot of my bed when I got a phone call from my Executive Pastor, Gerry Lewis. It was the last Sunday of 2017 and I was excited to come to church to worship God with His people and prepare to cross over with them into 2018. I had prepared a message from Deuteronomy chapter 1 entitled, “This Side/That Side” and I was pumped about preaching it. While standing on “this side” of the Jordan River, Moses spoke to Joshua’s generation of Israelites, giving them several words of wisdom before they would cross over to “that side” called the Promised Land.
Unfortunately, I would never get to preach that message because Gerry informed me that we had no running water in the building. Due to the hawkish weather conditions that blanketed our area, it appeared that our pipes had frozen. Without running water coming into the building we wouldn’t be able to flush the toilets or have heat. Before calling me, Gerry had tried contacting several plumbers to help rectify our situation, but since it was a Sunday morning on a holiday weekend, we couldn’t get anyone to come out on such short notice. Reluctantly, Gerry and I knew we had no choice but to cancel church on New Year’s Eve morning.
Calls and texts went out to our congregation and posts were made on social media. Regrettably, we weren’t able to reach everyone because a few people showed up to church and were sent back home. We soon discovered that we were not the only ones affected by the frigid temperatures. Chick-fil-A, a local barber shop, a house across the street, and many other homes and businesses experienced setbacks from frozen pipes. A local television station got wind of our cancellation and came by the church to have us share our story.
Somebody Call A Plumber!
We were fortunate to get a plumber to come out two days later, and thankfully, he was able to identify and solve our problem. Sitting out on the front of the church’s lawn is a green box, which I had never paid attention to. I soon found out how that green box covered a small section of above ground piping called the “backflow prevention valve” and it was frozen.
Reduced pressure in the pipes caused by freezing sometimes allows contaminated water from the soil or other sources to be drawn up into the system. However, the backflow prevention valve is designed to keep this from happening. It allows clean water to come into the church and it keeps polluted water from the church from going back out into the city’s potable water supply systems.
Once the plumber removed a piece of the backflow prevention valve, the water pressure from inside the pipe pushed up a ten-inch, tubular shaped piece of ice! The plumber pulled the ice out, reconnected the pipes and placed a heat lamp under the pipes to continue thawing them out. With the church’s backflow prevention valve being frozen, there was no way that water could flow into the church. This small, frozen valve ended up being the thing that kept hundreds of God’s people from worshipping Him that morning in His house.
It Doesn’t Take Much
We see that a chunk of ice in a small device can cause massive problems for a church. The same can be true in our lives. A small, unchecked icy area in our hearts can easily derail us and hinder our relationships with those around us. When we walk around with a frozen heart valve, God’s Spirit, who is called “Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37 – 39), will not be able to flow as freely through us. The Spirit’s work is blocked when we allow our hearts to be covered over by the chilling frost of unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, and pride. Sadly, a cold-hearted Christian is nothing but a walking oxymoron.
The good news is that all ice ages must come to an end. There is no glacier that can long withstand the sun’s powerful rays, and in a similar fashion, there is no frozen heart that can stand up for long under the radiance of the Son’s love and grace. When we call on “Dr. Jesus” like the church called on that plumber, we will soon discover that Jesus is not only a mind regulator, He is also a cold heart fixer! He is able to melt away the reinforced casings we place around our frostbitten hearts.
If it doesn’t take much for us to cause the chilly problem, with God it doesn’t take much to correct it, either. The simple cure for a frostbitten heart is repentance. To repent means to turn from something that is harmful, while simultaneously turning to something (or someone) who is life-giving. Repentance is a straightforward concept, but our pride often makes it difficult. The hit song in the animated movie “Frozen” is entitled “Let It Go.” When we repent, we are telling God that we are letting go of how we hurt Him, how we hurt others, and how others hurt us.
If you find yourself with a cold heart, the only way to get warm again is to repent and let it go. Are you willing to do that? Are you broken enough to ask God to “thaw you out?” I’m a witness that once you repent, the living water of the Spirit will start flowing unhindered again through a heart that is soft like flesh. Not only will you be blessed beyond measure, those around you will also benefit from your transformation!