HOW IS THE ATMOSPHERE AROUND ME?__
Climate change is defined as, “a significant and long-lasting change in the earth’s climate and weather patterns” as a result of excess greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide. (Webster). In this regard, climate change is not a good thing. Sadly, statistical data indicates the planet is warming at an alarming rate and many coastal cities around the world will experience excessive flooding and many inland areas will experience excessive drought and wild-fires as a result of the excess heat in the atmosphere. Every one of us must seek to be good stewards over the earth and be ecologically responsible. Sometimes it seems overwhelming but it does not have to be. When shopping, use paper over plastic bags. Recycle. Limit the use of fossil fuels when appropriate i.e. walk or carpool when able to do so. When we approach climate change with a plan, we realize that we have a lot of power over our own behavior as it pertains to facilitating change to combat the negative forces that have placed our planet in peril.
Similarly, on a spiritual level, many believers in Christ sometimes feel that the atmosphere around them is becoming increasingly frustrating, debilitating and negative. In a sense, we are dealing with spiritual greenhouse gases, overwhelming our spiritual thought lives. We are inundated with pessimistic headiness, doom and gloom scenarios, seemingly unanswered prayer and constantly confronting a malaise of tragedy and never-ending disappointments. If we are feeling overwhelmed, it may be time for a spiritual climate change.
God gloriously instructs us, in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (KJV). In meditating on this scripture, I realize that there are many negative forces that we have no control over in terms of what we may be exposed to. However, how we process it, is up to us. When my siblings and I were children, my mother would find the appropriate scripture to combat a negative force. For example, when we were sick, she would find scripture such as Psalm 147:3, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (KJV). When feeling oppressed or bullied in school, she would find Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (KJV).
After all these years, what I have come to realize, is that my mother was changing the climate by focusing on the everlasting truths of God’s words and not the temporary turmoil or distress. The biggest way the enemy of our souls keeps us oppressed is by “tricking” believers to not focus on the Lord and his promises, but to be distracted by the current problem or dilemma we are facing. Every believer in Christ must do an environment check and assess our spiritual climate. Now note, there is a difference between weather and climate. In the natural world, weather generally refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity. Climate refers to sustained atmospheric conditions over a long period of time. Sometimes our temporary spiritual weather is bad. Spiritual thunder-storms pop up. A temporary drought may take place such as a spell of not wanting to pray, not wanting to go to church. However, weather will always yield to climate. For example, if it snows in Maryland in April, that’s weather. But, the climate of Maryland is such that I know any snow will yield to the southern/mid-Atlantic warmth that is Maryland’s climate. Today, reading this, you may feel sad over a situation in your life. Resist the natural urge to give in to hopelessness and helplessness. Because you are a believer in the all mighty God, you know that your default climate position in Christ is one of joy. Nehemiah 8:10b proclaims, “the joy of the LORD is [my] strength.” (KJV). Cultivating a spiritual climate that rests on the promises of God, ensures a believer that no matter what, we can be strong, knowing that the joy of the Lord is a constant source of our strength. It’s ok for us to feel weak. He (the Lord Jesus Christ) carries us and never meant for us to walk in our own strength, but to use his strength! Our climate is regulated from an inner strength that comes from our relationship with the one who made heaven and earth and who has dominion over all things.
I sometimes think of Mary F. Powers’ poem of the traveling believer who walked across the desert sands and only saw one set of footprints (the traveler’s). The traveler confronted the Lord and inquired as to why when he was in the most barren, hot and desolate place in his life, he only saw the one set of footprints. The Lord told the traveler he saw one set of footprints because the Lord was carrying him over the problematic area in his life. When the weather clouds of discouragement and disappointment come my way; when the earthquakes and floods of doubt arise; when sickness seeks to ensnare me; when drought seeks to burn me, I turn to the ultimate climate change scripture found in Psalm 27:1, “the LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (KJV).
The same way negative climate change in the natural world can be combatted with lifestyle and corporation changes and practices, you can experience a shift in your climate by remembering daily what God says about you and your situation.