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St Johns Southgate

09 Jun 2016

The alarm goes off. I look at the phone. To snooze or not to snooze? Not to snooze. It’s now or never. Come on, get the running gear on and get out the door!

I usually don’t mind the before dawn dash, but this particular morning it was hard to get out of bed. It was the first really cold morning of the year, but I was determined to go for my run. Motivation is a fickle friend, as they say. What you need is discipline!

As I closed the front door behind me, I realised that this morning was a bit colder than usual. I remember thinking that in shorts and a t-shirt I was probably a little under-dressed, but there was no turning back now. Off I went, powering through a cloud of my own breath.

About one kilometre into the ordeal my fingers started to sting and then ache. A minute later I was having trouble bending them. This wasn’t good. In the heat of a cold moment, I made the only decision a tough Aussie bloke could make – to turn back. I did feel like a bit of a wuss, but hey, who’s going to know, right?

Lying in bed that night, knowing that the forecast for the following morning was just as cold, if not colder, than the one that had beaten me, I made plans.

I need gloves! The problem is that I don’t own any gloves. I know, I’ll wear an old pair of socks over my hands, that’ll do the trick!

The alarm went off. Again, not to snooze it was. Out the door, this time wearing two pairs of socks. Who’s going to know? It’s pitch black anyway!

It did the trick, I managed to complete my morning exercise this time.

Should I feel ashamed for needing some makeshift gloves? I don’t think so. In every aspect of life, we’re going to experience times of darkness and moments when we’re left out in the cold. There’s no shame in needing a warm scarf or a pair of gloves to get through.

Everyone lives through the occasional chilly season and some even suffer through an ice age. But the winters of human existence need not be ones solely of discontent. Even when the wind-chill factor leaves us shivering we can take comfort in knowing that there is one who is always there to wrap a scarf around us. There is one who will walk with us as we lean into whatever icy blasts are thrown our way.

In the famous 23rd psalm we hear of the good shepherd who is with his sheep even as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. This good shepherd doesn’t promise to build a bridge over the dark valleys of life, but he does promise to be with us – to be those makeshift gloves that get us through the tough times, even though the world might laugh at us.

There is no shame in needing to rug up. Needing a spiritual shepherd doesn’t mean you’re a lesser creature or deluded, as Richard Dawkins might say. We all need something to get us out the door on a cold morning. For me, it’s Jesus.

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