But Georgia parks do have this advantage—all of their bathhouses are heated in the cool season. That is not so in all the Florida parks, not even in North Florida. I suppose they must live up to the State’s image as “warm.” The ceilings in the bathhouses are about twelve feet high and the top four feet of wall is screen—whatever the temperature is outside, it is inside too, sometimes cooler since the concrete walls tend to hold in the cold. In summer that may be nice, but in winter it’s for the birds—penguins, in this case.
Yet in Florida we do have some chilly days, and in North Florida we have several downright cold days. On our last January camping trip to Anastasia State Park on the northeast coast, highs were in the 50s and lows in the 30s, and taking a shower was literally a bone-chilling experience. To make matters worse, every time I arrived at the bathhouse, the door was propped open and the ceiling fan spinning, its chain way out of my reach. If grandma had been right about the cold and wet making you sick, we would have been terminal by the end of our stay. No amount of pretending could make those temperatures any warmer. All the ceiling fans, screens and other accoutrements of tropical warmth could not make the goosebumps and shivers disappear. It was cold. And our Canadian campsite neighbors agreed.
Don’t we sometimes do the same in our spiritual lives? I once saw a man open his closed fist over the collection plate, and nothing came out. We may think our pretending is not quite as obvious as that, but God sees our hearts better than my eyes saw that man’s empty hand. We sit on a pew on Sunday morning, but what are we doing on Monday morning? We follow along as the preacher cites passages, but do we open our Bibles at home? We bow our heads during prayer, but does God hear from us the rest of the week? Our hands are not empty when we open them over the basket, but are our arms open to the needy, the discouraged, the hurting every other day?
God will not be fooled by the accoutrements of modern Christian living any more than my goosebumps were fooled by screens, a whirling ceiling fan and a big sign that said “FLORIDA.” Let us turn on the heat in our lives—the heat of passion in our worship, and the warmth of heartfelt compassion toward others.
Take heed that you do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of men, else you will have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. When you do your alms, sound not a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do…that they may have glory of men…When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the corners of streets that they may be seen of men. Moreover when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may be seen of men to fast. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face, that you be not seen of men to fast, but of your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret, shall reward you. Matt 6:1-6, 16-18