It's Time To Thaw

April 4, 2014
by Diane Eaton

Hebrews 3:15b – Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion. (NIV)

Since the first snowfall last October, winter has gripped many of us in a relentless deep freeze. At times, our lives came to a frozen standstill. Cancelled plans and commitments became the norm. The ground froze farther down than usual, freezing many buried water pipes. It was as if we lived in C. S. Lewis's Narnia, where the wicked White Witch's spell kept the land frozen in perpetual winter. If we had never known better days, we could easily have assumed that this was the norm, with no other season. But we know better. We know that the thaw must come!

Spiritual parallels are easy to spot here. Frozen pipes are like hardened hearts, insensitive to God's Spirit: Both are blocked on the inside; both prevent the flow of life-giving water; both can cause destruction resulting in the need for repair work, sometimes extensively. Hardened hearts can come from bitterness, unforgiveness, and above all, unbelief—that is, the inability to trust God. Lack of trust quenches the flow of God's life-giving Spirit in and through us. This condition has often become the norm among God's people—just as it was for ancient Israel. Habits and traditions become merely a form of godliness without the power; interest in Scripture and prayer dwindles. Whenever God's people get seized up in a spiritual winter, then it's time for a thaw, or, you could say, a Lenten season of repentance.

This past winter, my church in Kincardine succumbed to frozen pipes. The lineup of frozen pipe emergencies was so long that we had to cancel the entire week's schedule—even the Sunday service—because we were without water. But then we were blessed. A repairman came and used a heat gun to blow hot air onto the pipes and melt the ice. It worked! There was no need for a massive digging project, and we could reschedule the Sunday service. That episode reminded me of the breath of the Spirit blowing onto frozen hearts. Truly, only God's Spirit can bring about such a thaw. Without the breath of God, we would stay stuck in our frozen land of Narnia—forever.

Apparently frozen pipes can be prevented simply by letting a trickle of water continually run through the tap. That's all well and good to say. But we have to deal with reality: Pipes do freeze. And hearts do become hardened. We need the thaw. We need our personal seasons of Lent to open up our hearts to the life-giving Spirit of the resurrected Christ.

Joseph Scriven, the writer of the hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus", was sensitive to our inner struggles—including our bent toward spiritual hardness. I discovered that by reading the original words in his own handwriting. Instead of the familiar words, "Are we weak and heavy laden", Scriven wrote, "Are we cold and unbelieving". I think it's a pity that those words disappeared from this hymn. They could help alert us to our need for the thawing Wind of God's Spirit—our own season of Lent.

May this be our prayer:

Dear Lord, sensitize me to the spiritual condition of my inner being. Am I cold and unbelieving? Have I unknowingly slipped into a frozen, unyielding state of cynicism toward Your promises? O Lord, I depend on You for revelation. I submit my heart to You—that the wind of Your Spirit may blow freely and perform a miracle within—that I may become an effective conduit, always flowing with Your grace in this spiritually-frozen world of ours. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the good word Diane. God bless.

    One of the, if not the, nicest, I have ever read.

    Beautifully said dear sister in Christ. Thank you.

    Diane: Thank you so much for your words and for the hymn quotation. Blessings to you.

    Thanks for writing to us.

    Diane – I very much enjoyed the words of the third verse of “What a friend…” that were written in the writer’s own hand; very interesting.

    Hi Diane, Thanks for sharing such an excellent meditation.
    How did you come upon Joseph Scriven’s hymn in his own handwriting? How special.

    I really loved your devotional from today. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
    (Ohio USA)

    I Loved your devotional for today. Thank you for writing it.
    Its a beautiful picture of frozen pipes n frozen hearts.
    (Ohio, usa)

    Good one Diane! Also brings to mind the popular movie “Frozen” which illustrates how love thaws “frozen” hearts…a good illustration for little kids which could be used as an analogy to make your point for them.
    They’d identify with the movie moreso than frozen pipes, perhaps.

    Hi Diane,
    What a great reflection for a frosty April morning.
    How often in the church (and in our own lives) we become ‘frozen’ and ‘stuck’ because we think the only solution to the ‘frozen pipes’ is an unbelievably huge ‘digging project’ that is beyond our human capacity. Thanks for the reminder that what we need is to be open to the warmth of the breath of God.

    Hello Diane,
    Thank you for the link to Joseph Scriven’s originally handwritten hymn,
    What a Friend We Have in Jesus, which happens to be my favourite hymn! I also notice that he originally named the hymn “Pray Without Ceasing.”
    I agree that the phrase “Are we cold and unbelieving” is a powerful one, especially in this age of rampant cynicism.
    Thanks for your devotional. Something important for us to think about during Lent.
    (BC, Canada)

    A precious devotional, Diane. Scriptural, spirit-renewing because of the presence of our Lord’s Spirit.
    Thank you.
    Yes, southern Manitoba has had the same weather that you speak of having in southern Ontario. And we still had more new snow yesterday. Sometimes farmers are on the fields before the end of March, though the crop-experts now advise waiting a few weeks because germination is better when the soil has become more consistently warm.
    The parallel need for a spiritual thaw of the sunshine of the Lord melting our hearts is so welcome. I have been enjoying Biblical passages of the events of the end of Jesus’ life and have found the renewing again. I am more impressed with Jesus’ words of it being far better that he would go away — and why — because he would send his Holy Spirit to be with his people. The book of Galatians shows us even more.
    Keep writing.

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