My An Arkie's Faith column from the October 26, 2022, issue of The Polk County Pulse.
The mornings had been cooler for a few days, but this morning was downright cold. A cold blast of air blew right through me as I walked out the front door, heading to work. When I arrived at my shop, I glanced at the thermometer that hung next to the front door. It read 26 degrees. I shivered, as just knowing the temperature made me even colder. "It is too cold for the middle of October," I thought.
I entered my shop and immediately turned on the 220-volt, 5000-watt space heater. It was the first time I had used the heater since a major renovation of my shop. The heater had taken the chill out of the air in just a few minutes, and I was comfortable working. Before long, it was warm enough to turn down the heater. I'm not too fond of cold weather, but I was excited to see how well my shop would stay warm.
This spring, I started working on my cold, drafty shop. The building is old and needs updating. In several places, the ceiling had fallen, so heat quickly escaped. Some of the siding had rotted away, and you could see outside. The old, ill-fitting garage door left significant gaps. I would stuff old blankets into the cracks to try and keep some heat in the shop. It wasn't easy trying to keep the shop warm.
My friend, Dale, worked hard for most of the spring building and insulating new walls and ceilings. He patiently worked through all the quirks of my old building. Blake at MCW Pro did a masterful job of engineering and installing new garage doors that sealed out the elements. Terry tore off the old siding, replaced rotten studs, put in new insulation, and after installing the metal siding, he spray-foamed and caulked the building. After a thick layer of spray foam insulation was sprayed onto the ceiling, I was sure my shop was ready for cold weather. The final touch was when Gage applied seven gallons of white paint to the interior walls. I was pleased with the results.
I was happy that my shop was now able to hold the heat. It was satisfying to know that I would be able to stay warm this winter. All the hard work and expenses were worth it. It is incredible the difference that insulation and sealing can make. Science and technology writer Chris Woodford explains it this way.
"The real problem with home heating is retaining the heat you produce: in winter, the air surrounding your home and the soil or rock on which it stands are always at a much lower temperature than the building, so no matter how efficient your heating is, your home will still lose heat sooner or later. The answer is, of course, to create a kind of buffer zone in between your warm house and the cold outdoors. This is the basic idea behind heat insulation, which is something most of us think about far too little. According to the US Department of Energy, only a fifth of homes built before 1980 are properly insulated."
The second law of thermodynamics, overly simplified, tells us that energy is always looking to move towards less energy. When we are talking about heating our homes and workspaces, that means energy in the form of heat will always move towards less heat energy unless we intervene and work hard to guard against it.
Just like we need insulation to keep the heat in our houses, we, as Christians, need to insulate ourselves from the cold of the world around us. Paul explained what I call the second law of spiritual thermodynamics in Romans 7:15-24 (NLT)
"I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So, I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"
The second law of thermodynamics tells us that energy is always looking to move towards less energy. In the same way, the second law of spiritual thermodynamics tells us that our sinful nature will always win if we do not have help from God. Our sinful hearts automatically desire to conform to the surrounding climate of the world. "Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please." Galatians 5:17 (NCV) "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Gentle Reader, Jesus knew the struggle we would face. When He was praying in the garden before His arrest, He prayed for you and me. "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one." The cold of the world around us will always be trying to get inside us, so we need to have the proper insulation. "Like a bird protecting its young, God will cover you with His feathers, will protect you under His great wings; His faithfulness will form a shield around you, a rock-solid wall to protect you." Psalms 91:4 (VOICE) Ask God to insulate you from the cold of this world so you can stay warm.