By Daniel H. King
When I was a boy it was my pleasure to spend the night occasionally at my grandmother’s W house in West Tennessee. It was a great place to stay, although the facilities were far less civilized than most of us would like to have them be today. Just being out on the farm with her and my two bachelor uncles was sensational for a country boy who had been transplanted (against his will) to the big city.
I never gave too much thought to the fact that we had to carry in the water from the pump and drink from the same iron-encrusted dipper, even in the winter when little slivers of ice volunteered their presence about the edges of the bucket. It wasn’t even so bad that there was no indoor toilet. That amounted only to something “neat” that I could tell my friends about when I made it back to the city. They would all say “Wow!” and mean it when they heard how I had roughed it with the folks out in the “sticks.”
During the cold part of the year, however, this simple nuisance took on awesome dimensions. Waking up in the middle of the night with the urge to visit the little wooden “outhouse” (which was duly situated a goodly number of steps from the house), was an experience which, once lived through, would never be forgotten!
There is one thing, though, above all such related experiences, that drifts back into the memory with a special mixture of emotions. It is the sensation of putting on cold breeches. I remember awakening to the faint smell of bacon frying and buttermilk biscuits in the oven. My bedroom was located at the furthermost end of the house, far from the coal-fired stove in the front room. Some mornings it was so cold in the room that your nose was visibly red from it. And, the breath that issued from beneath the thickly-layered quilts atop the feather-bed could actually be seen as well as felt.
On such wintry mornings one held his breath as he dashed from out of the protecting covers and slid the icy pants that lay beside the bed onto his toasty-warm body. What a frigid reception they always gave their host! Those first heart-stopping moments were certainly no indication of the warmth they would later bestow. Only slowly would they begin to reflect the body’s self-generated heat back upon itself. At the first they certainly gave more pain than pleasure.
As I have considered more fully this experience of putting on cold breeches, I have often reflected that there are many things in fife that are like it. Such experiences start out giving pain but end in profit. Is this not so with birth?
One accepts the necessary advice of a physician, who takes a knife and cuts deeply into his flesh – a thing he would not imagine allowing to happen to him were it not for the hoped-for benefit at the end of this surgical operation.-In similar fashion, one opens his mouth widely while a dentist drills a gaping hole in his tooth all the way down to the nerve (at which time he usually wants to jump out of the chair). When this experience is over he cherishes the hope that his tooth will quit hurting and that he will never have to visit another dentist as long as he lives. But if he has another toothache, back to the dentist he will go! The benefit is worth the temporary discomfort. One would prefer to endure a few moments in the dentist’s chair than to lay awake all night long with a toothache.
Things are the same way in the spiritual realm. Because a few things in that department cause us some momentary discomfort or make demands upon us which would be more easily ignored or neglected than fulfilled, we would prefer not to have any part of them. That is the easy way, for now at least. It is also the most convenient way. But the way of hardship is often the only way to lasting satisfaction and happiness. It is said that Paul, after an unsuccessful attempt by his opponents on his fife, exhorted the disciples of Christ in Pisidia to continue in the faith, despite hardships, for it is “through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). If anyone knew how true was this axiom, it was surely Paul!
We will not conceal the fact that your confession of Christ and stand in life for his teachings and principles will at times cost you. The duties of the Christian life are numerous and involve expenditure of time and money. We refuse to apologize for that. But, look at them like this: They are a lot like putting on cold breeches. At first they may make shivers run through you. But after a while you warm up to them. In heaven you’ll probably forget all about them: “For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 7, p. 208
April 5, 1984