It happens every year around this time.
Where we live in Ohio, the month of October predictably brings up a decision my wife and I must make here at home. When to finally make the switch of our gas furnace thermostat from OFF to ON.
Thankfully, we both have an internal thermostat within our own bodies that can cue the mind quite well when that time comes. Yet, our minds are stubborn creatures in and of themselves, often choosing to postpone that switch of our furnace to ON just as long as possible each Fall season. By habit, we drag out our sweaters from summer storage, pile another blanket on the bed, pull those warm slippers down in place of our summer flip flops, and about anything else we can think of to delay this simple switch of that furnace thermostat from OFF to ON. But, every year, on some morning before October comes to an end, we agree to give in and make the switch.
The switch from OFF to ON turns our cold house into a warm home seemingly in minutes, always to compensate for those mornings of cold discomfort we were determined to prolong each and every October. Yet it also turns our summer memories into a kind of winter dread that is a bit harder to explain.
In our case, we have the blessed assurance that the little pilot light on our furnace will stay lit and can be entirely forgotten for months on end. No heat but no cost to amount to anything. Just a tiny flame awaiting that moment each year when we make that eventual decision. To make the switch from OFF to ON. And to then listen for the big flame that bursts up within the furnace for exchange through our fan and filter into every room, every duct, throughout our newly warmed home in preparation for winter. All this after going many days of resisting that switch and many months of taking that tiny pilot light for granted in the first place.
Which reminds me of something else in life we might postpone, and also take for granted.
I believe there is a soul within each one of us that acts much like a source of warmth in our lives, and within that soul lies a tiny flame I call God’s Holy Spirit. It’s our energy supply that, well, goes unnoticed for a period of time. Why we may choose to prolong that period of time and leave that soul’s own thermostat switched to OFF is a question for the ages. But, true confession, I’ve also been known to stubbornly refuse making that switch from OFF to ON before in my life. Maybe I’m not the only one. Maybe we’re in this one together.
Why is that, do you suppose?
Why is it we not only take for granted that the Holy Spirit’s tiny pilot light within our souls is even there, but why do we also resist that switch from OFF to ON even upon realizing our need for additional comfort in our lives? Why do we resort to all other manner of comfort from head to toe and back again before realizing this Spiritual energy is clean, renewable, and downright free for the taking? Here I’m talking about the equivalent of warm slippers, pullover sweaters, and heavy blankets. Things like alcohol, comfort food, and shopping trips. Anything we think might comfort us enough to avoid, for awhile longer, having to make the switch within our souls from OFF to ON. And so we leave the Holy Spirit’s pilot light to just flicker away on its own, hesitating to actually fire it up again.
Here’s my own thought as to why I, perhaps you as well, might resist. You see, I prefer the times when the world around me is a warm and friendly place. I’d like it to stay that way all year around. And I rather hate the thought that it can turn into a cold and cruel place. Yet, as the seasons of our calendars change and signal more warmth or more cold ahead, so our environment changes in ways that predict more cold cruelty from life’s storms and other terrors in this world, and, well, I resist that awareness. I resent that prediction. I angrily drag my feet at the thought that the warm and friendly world that I have known can seemingly turn on a dime into some place cold and cruel. Then I reach for all manner of other comforts before considering my own soul’s energy source that lies ready to supply my body with its every need if only……………I will decide to make the switch. Decide to pray. Decide to switch God’s clean, renewable, free energy from heaven from OFF to ON. To fire up within me through that tiny pilot light I call the Holy Spirit.
And to strangely warm my heart even through the times when this cold, cruel world can no longer be denied or postponed. "I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend [comforter]so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!" -- John 14:16-17 (The Message)