Something begins happening this time of year to those of us who live in cold weather conditions. From November through March the mercury hardly rises about 45 and the air is biting and dry. Some days it is as if we can feel it deep within our chests. However, it takes a toll on our skin and lips as they become dried out. They begin to crack and even bleed if not treated properly.
I can remember being a kid opening my mouth and feeling the natural split in my lips. OUCH!
Maybe you can relate to this feeling, maybe you cringe at the very thought of it? Maybe this feeling isn't limited to how our body reacts to cold, dry weather? Maybe this is condition also exists within our hearts on a spiritual level?
One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is Psalm 119. It also happens to be the longest chapter in the Scriptures, weighing in at 176 emotion dripping verses. The chapter is broken down into stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. David writes about he delights in the word of the LORD. He has hidden God's word in his heart, so that he might not sin. The word of the Lord is life-giving.
The section of this chapter that has been seared in my mind is a word picture that is painted in the KAPH stanza (verses 81-88). Specifically, verse 83, check it out:
"Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget you decrees."
Picture a tent, with a small fire to keep the inhabitants warm. The wineskins are strung near the top of the tent where the smoke rises and caresses the wineskins as it departs into the sky. Over time, the heat from the fire and the smoke will dry out the wineskins causing them to crack and render them useless.
Such is the condition of our heart in a season of struggle. When nothing seems to be going right. Yet, the second half of verse 83 provides the hope. "I do not forget your decrees." This is the Psalmist saying, "Even though I'm riding the struggle bus right now...your words preserve me."
When you read the Bible you will be hard-pressed to find a more honest book than Psalms. The wide-range of emotions are covered in these 150 chapters. It's a blessing to all who read it. It is a prayer-filled journey worth taking.
Prayer + Scripture = a conversation with God
Even though, you might be feeling like a wineskin in the smoke right now...find your way back to the Scriptures. As the weather gets colder, fix yourself a warm beverage, open your Bible to the center and begin a journey through the Psalms, you won't be disappointed.