Deep Freeze

We have a refrigerator with ice and water in the door.  Fancy pants, I hear you say.  Keep in mind this is the only one we’ve ever had like this.  We can have:  water, crushed ice or cubed ice that looks suspiciously like crushed ice.  It’s handy, especially since I like my water – and I drink a lot of it – icy.

Lately, though, the ice maker has been on the fritz.  It still makes cubed ice; you have to reach in the storage box to get it out manually.  But the crushed ice…well, it’s been a little too productive lately.  A hoary frost forms on the outside of the ice storage container inside the freezer.  A lip of ice covers the inside of the ice dispenser.  The dispenser itself gets clogged with mini icebergs. 

Jonathon says it’s because the fridge door hasn’t been closing all the way and so the ice maker tries to compensate by being colder. He’s probably right.  I try to avoid chemistry thoughts or problems as much as possible.  They make me queasy.  Exothermic or endothermic reaction?  I never did memorize the periodic table.

Once every other day, I dig into the freezer.  I grit my teeth, steeling myself for frozen fingers. I unclog the ice storage box, where the ice pours down into the dispenser.  Ice chips clatter to the floor.  I dig out the inside dispenser with a wooden spoon.  It’s snowing in my kitchen!  I catch most of the wayward ice with a bowl, but some inevitably lands on the floor.  I sweep up the rapidly melting bits and wipe up the moisture.  My floor is VERY clean right in front of the fridge.  You could probably eat off of it.  I wouldn’t suggest it, however.

I’ve been reading in I Kings and Chronicles on the Bible reading plan lately.  Hezekiah has been the featured king. He reopened the Temple, which his father, King Ahaz, had closed.  At this point in time, the kingdom was divided.  Hezekiah ruled Judah.  2 Chronicles 29 says “he did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done” (2 Chr. 29:2).  He invited the people of Israel and Judah to celebrate Passover.  The entire Levite ministry and priesthood was reestablished. He was off to a good start.

I think 2 Chronicles 32 shows a different side of this religious reformer.  In verse 24, the account says Hezekiah became deathly ill.  The Lord healed a deadly disease in his feet (2 Kings 20).  He cried out to God and the Lord asked him what kind of sign he would like to show he would be healed – have the sun go forwards on the sundial, or backwards?  Hezekiah chose backwards.  Ta-da!  God did it.  But…this narrative in Chronicles says “Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud.  So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chr. 32:25).  Ouch!  And later on in this chapter, it briefly describes a visit from Babylonian envoys that God used to test what was in Hezekiah’s heart (32:31).  Later, they could come back and conquer the land, taking captives the most beautiful women and noble sons. 

Hezekiah was proud.  Sure, he did all the right things.  He was able to get God’s favor and win the people’s loyalty.  Yet at the end of the day, his heart wasn’t in it.  He got puffed up.  “Look what God did for me!  I must be pretty special!  Not only am I king, I’m the favorite.” The 2 Chronicles report said “God withdrew from Hezekiah to see what was in his heart”.  I should also mention that Hezekiah’s illness happened right on the heels of a miraculous military victory against Assyria.  It seemed tailor-made to discourage him.  And it did.  When Isaiah told him the Lord said he would die, the Bible says he “turned his face to the wall and prayed to God”, saying in essence, Remember me, God!  I’ve always been faithful to you. He felt sorry for himself.

There’s no denying that Hezekiah was faithful.  He did follow God’s laws.  And God heard his prayer.  Isaiah had to turn right around and tell Hezekiah he would live.  Isaiah directed Hezekiah’s servants to make an ointment from figs and apply it to the boil. He tells Hez he will go to the Temple in 3 days.  But Hezekiah, skeptical and newly wrenched from death’s door, wants a sign.  The sun’s shadow moved back 10 steps backward to show God’s faithfulness.

This is the miracle that Hezekiah didn’t appreciate.  According to the Lord, King Hezekiah’s reign was finished; he was supposed to die of that disease.  But God added 15 more years to his life and rescued him from Assyrian attack.  Instead of realizing his incredible frailty, Hezekiah, puffed up by Babylonian flattery, shows the envoys everything – all the royal treasures (2 Kings 20:15).  Isaiah pronounces the doom of Judah. 

Hezekiah, far from being humbled by the impending invasion, thinks “At least there will be peace and security in my lifetime” (2 Kings 20:19).

He froze God out.  He didn’t need God anymore.  “Thank you very much, El Shaddai, for saving my country and my life.  I’m good now.  I’m moving up in the world and making friends!  See how important I am.  I don’t need you.  I’m sophisticated and wealthy.”

Don’t we do the same?  I don’t need to be childlike anymore. I’m a modern woman. I have money in the bank.  I have a (relative) amount of intelligence.  I can handle this life just fine, thanks.  I’ll go to church and pay my tithe and serve, but I don’t need any Divine Intervention.  I can figure it out on my own. “Got-ta do it my way…”

We have to be careful.  God’s values are not the world’s values.  He could care less if we’re rich, popular, famous or beautiful.  He cares about our hearts.  The Bible says out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It’s not enough to do the right things if our heart is somewhere else.  We need to keep our hearts clear of icy blockages. What are we speaking? Whom are we serving?