I remember the freezing, long walk up Sheridan to class. The trail of tears. Countless college students, leaned over and hunchbacked, in the cold. Trekking to class like the saddest polar expediters you’ve ever seen. South campus up to North campus. November. December. January. February. March. April. The weather unforgiving. Constant. Siberian.
I remember my Mom calling me one year in the dead middle of those deadly winters.
“Bobby, how was it up there today?”
“Great, Mom. It’s actually a beautiful, sunny day. Almost a beach volleyball kinda day!”
“Bobby…I’m looking at the Weather Channel right now. It says it’s 26 degrees there.”
I remember that at some point in college, I got so accustomed to Chicago winters that 26 felt like 62. Seriously. It was sad. I’d call friends back home in the middle of May, they’re sitting around sunbathing and shirtless in the sweet old South. I’d zip my fleece up a little more and take off a glove to shove my phone back in my pocket. I longed for the warmth. The real warmth. Not the 26 degrees kind.
I remember last weekend here in Arkansas, right at the end of January, our high hit somewhere in the 70s. It was one of the most beautiful, God ordained, incredibly rare, San Diego-at-its-best kinda days. Immaculate. Perfect. God’s gift to everybody.
I hated it.
I wanted it to be cold.
Yep…I have a problem.
While in Chicago, stuck with S.A.D. (Seasonal Affected Disorder), I just wanted it to be warm. While in Arkansas, stuck in the warmth, I just wanted it to be cold. Instead of appreciating whatever was before me, whether that was 26 or 62, I wanted something else. Something more. Something better. Than what God had planned that day.
God was wrong. Right?
I was wrong.
I’m working through a book Rob Bell wrote called Sex God with a Small Group of 9th and 10th grade guys. I realize that last sentence could’ve gotten me fired from a lot of churches, for a lot of reasons, but that’s just one of the many reasons why I love where I’m at right now. In the last chapter we read, Bell writes about Lust. Not just sexual lust. This is a lust that consumes us. A lust for Greed. Status. Sex. Power. Knowledge.
And that brought us to Adam and Eve. They lusted for something they couldn’t have. Knowledge.
But “lust promises what it can’t deliver.” At some point, Adam and Eve looked at all creation that was available to them and decided it wasn’t good enough. They decided God wasn’t good enough. So they chose something else.
Look at what Bell wrote about that experience:
Adam and Eve fixate on this one piece of fruit from this one tree when God has given them endless trees with infinite varieties of fruit to enjoy. Which is often our problem. There’s so much to enjoy, and yet we fixate on what we don’t have.
This is why gratitude is so central to the life God made us for. Until we can center ourselves on what we do have, on what God has given us, on the life we do get to live, we’ll constantly be looking for another life. That is why the word remember occurs again and again in the Bible. God commands his people to remember who they are, where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, what’s been done for them. If we stop remembering, we may forget. And that’s when the trouble comes.
I remember waking up this morning and hearing rain outside my bedroom window. I turned off my alarm and lied down a little longer. Amy sleeping next to me. Abe still asleep in the room across the hall. Zeke sleeping on a couch in the living room.
I remember being surprised about the rain. Sure, I knew it was coming. I heard people all throughout the day yesterday talking about it, hoping it would get cold enough to freeze the streets over. But in the dark hours of the night and the easy forgetfulness of morning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the rain.
I had no hopes. No expectations. No preconceived notion of what today should look like today.
I remember one thing: gratitude. For rain.
For what was once up above, now descending to us down below.
If we stop remembering, we may forget.
What are you remembering today?