I have a love/hate relationship with large cuts of meat. I don’t like to keep raw meat in my fridge, because I always feel I’m on a timer before it goes bad. But, since I keep my fridge really (probably too) cold, It may take two or three days to thaw meat that I’ve pulled from the freezer. Since I’m a pretty impulsive guy when it comes to cooking, large cuts of meat always give me a lot of grief because they require the one ingredient that I’m always in short supply of: foresight.
I mention this because, so often, we think our hearts warm at the same speed as our minds. If I climb out of bed, rush out of my house, and get to the sanctuary 5 minutes after the first song starts, chances are, I won’t find any love for God in my heart. I will sing glorious truths about how God has saved me, how he loves me, and how I am in the family of God, and I will believe them 100%. I just won’t feel them. This is me taking a chicken straight from the freezer to the oven.
But if I wake up two hours before the service, spend time in God’s word and prayer, then I am thawing the icicles off of my heart and preparing myself for church service. I can feel joy in God in the first song, because I’m ready to praise God.
That’s the idea behind celebrating Advent, or the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. If we can be honest, Christmas can often be disappointing. We are supposed to be celebrating God becoming a man, but we don’t feel anything. No wonder, no joy. And we kick ourselves for our hard-hardheartedness. But instead of feeling guilty on the day of, it would be much more profitable to cultivate a discipline of, in the days leading up to Christmas, focusing on what God has done.
I think my sinful heart will always struggle with feeling the wonder of God. But the more I live with this heart, the more I realize that the fight to see God isn’t always in the moment. The fight starts when I have the foresight to defrost my heart.