Now I don’t know what kind of fancy people will read this, but I have an old-school fridge with no ice maker. To clarify: I do not mean there is not an ice maker with a touch screen; I do not mean there is not an ice maker on the outside door; I mean there is not a single component in my refrigerator/freezer that is able to create ice on its own. #FirstWorldProblems, I know. So to create ice, my sister and I fill up plastic ice cube trays whenever one is empty and wait for the miracle of frozen water. A drawback to our little setup is we don’t always rotate the ice trays, so sometimes one tray will get shoved into the back of the freezer for several weeks before we pull it out and realize the ice is old.
Yes, I realize that water does not age so it can’t technically be “old”, but you can tell when your ice has been in the tray too long. These are some of the telltale signs that you have old ice: it gets stuck, it tastes weird, and it shrinks. All the scientists may be waving their textbooks at that third sign and yelling, “Water expands as it freezes. It doesn’t shrink!” But trust me, there is a little thing called sublimation, which is intriguing if you care to read the link or Google it.
Back to the metaphor! I realized recently that I am like ice that has been in a tray for too long: I get stuck, I taste weird and I shrink. These might seem like non-human traits, but all three of these show up in my spiritual life when I metaphorically sit in the back of the freezer and do nothing. If I keep all my energy to myself and stay in my little ice tray, I am not fulfilling my God-given purpose. You see, ice is not created to stay ice forever. Ice is created to be used, eaten, chomped, or melted. The same is true in our spiritual lives: we were not created by God to stay in our comfort zones. We were created to be used by God! When we refuse to be used by God, we become like old ice. And just like old ice, it becomes obvious that we are spiritually frozen in three ways
We are spiritually frozen when…
1. We get stuck. — When we sit back spiritually and stop doing actions for God, we get encrusted in that place like a barnacle.
I am all about comfort zones. They are easy. They let you stay the way you have always been. The problem is when you stay too long in one spot and cannot move. When I sit too long on the couch marathoning The Office, I do not want to get up and go on a walk. When I get comfortable with one church routine, I do not want to change service times.
This “getting stuck” may not seem like a super big deal until you realize that God rarely asks His people to stand still. Yes, there is Psalm 46:10 and a few other moments where God asks His people to just chill. But there are many more moments when God metaphorically yells, “Get out of that ice cube tray!”
In Joshua 6, God says that He has given the city of Jericho to the Israelites in verse two and THEN tells them, “Oh, by the way, you need to march around the city for six days and march around with yelling and trumpets on the seventh day.” [Lauren’s Paraphrase Version]. The Israelites had to get unstuck before they could reap the city God had already reserved for them. God told them to get out of their ice cube tray.
In Matthew 28, Jesus had just risen from the dead. (From the Dead. Jesus DIED y’all. Like he was gone. They buried Him. They ate casseroles at His family’s house. They wore black. They used up all the Kleenex crying. They visited His grave. And then, He freakin’ came back to life!!) Jesus had just come back, and then He revealed some tough news. He told His disciples and followers that He had to leave again. However, the disciples were not told to sit and wait thousands of years on His second return. No! Jesus gave them actions, “Go… make… baptizing… teaching…” (Matt. 28:19-20) Jesus did not command the New Testament church (that’s us) to be passive. He told them to get unstuck from their trays.
My dear ice cubes, there are so many other examples of God calling us to act. Read your Bible and see for yourself. Do not let yourself get stuck in a tray!
We are spiritually frozen when…
2. We taste weird. — When we chill spiritually and stop giving of ourselves, we begin to absorb the “flavor” or the culture of the world around us.
Ice that has been in the tray too long tastes like the cardboard boxes that contain Lean Cuisine meals (or whatever you keep in your freezer). I do not know the exact science behind this, but I am guessing if the ice stays in your freezer longer, then it absorbs more of the smells/flavors in the air around it.
I am exactly like that. When I stop giving of myself and start hoarding my time and energy, my spiritual abilities grow stale. At that point, I am no longer affecting the world around me, because I am keeping everything to myself. Quite naturally, I begin to be affected by the world since it is the dominant force and I am a passive force. Instead of giving Jesus to the world, I am now absorbing the culture around me.
My culture says, “It’s your money anyway, why does it matter if other people need it more?” My culture says, “Everyone on TV is having sex, what is wrong with you?” My culture says, “You might offend people if you mention Jesus so just stay silent.” So as I sit in this culture and hear Satan’s lies repeated, they begin to sound more normal. I begin to question my own sin less and to care about people around me less. I begin to spiritually absorb the “flavor” of the world.
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says to you and to me, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
We are spiritually frozen when…
3. We shrink. — When we relax from all the spiritual effort of following God, we waste away.
I shrink away from doing the hard things in life like telling myself truth about who God has made me, living to my full potential, praying the audacious prayers, and expanding my faith in God. This shrinking is scary to me, because I think Satan enjoys watching us shrink. I think all the principalities of darkness sit around and have one big ole Super Bowl party when they see a once-brave Christian sit down. They applaud us for sinking into the couch, sliding away from Scripture, and slinking off into apathy.
There is a war. Right now. For souls. For your soul. For my soul. For the souls of so many who are next door to you and me. Souls that may never know a Savior because you and I sat inside shrinking away from “strangers”. Souls that walked in and out of Starbucks without us giving them a second thought. Souls that we did not care enough about to simply open our mouths and say, “Do you know God?”
This gives me chills. Let it not be! Let it not be! Let it not be said of us that we sat. Or shrunk. Or did nothing.
There is this theme in Scripture of God loving us “for a thousand generations”. We read about it here, here, here, and here. God does not want to shrink His kingdom’s reach in the present or the future. He wants to expand His love for us and for those who come after us for a thousand generations. What part are you willing to play in this expansion?
Conclusion — Do not be the old ice in the tray. Get unstuck from your comfort zone, scrape all of those cultural flavors out of yourself, and expand into what God has called you to do. Let God make you into fresh new ice that is constantly giving of yourself to change souls around you. Because that, my dear, is a Tender Tug from God.