This is a famous question from one of my favorite movies, Cool Runnings. The movie is the story of the inception of the Jamaican Bobsled team. One of the eventual Olympians is the lighthearted Sanka, recruited from being a pushcart driver, which is a non-motorized combination of a grocery cart and a go-cart. During the scene where Sanka is introduced, he is a grownup among kids in a pushcart race. He winds up going off the course, crashing into a chicken shanty. His best friend Darice runs to check on him and asks, “Sanka, ya dead?” to which Sanka answers “Ya, mon.” Of course, he is not really dead. Fast forward to a bobsled training exercise when their rickety, pieced-together sled capsizes. Darice asks again, “Sanka, ya dead?” Again, the answer: “ya, mon.” Later, in the actual Olympics, the Jamaican bobsled team has a crash during competition. This time, Sanka is the one to ask, “Darice, ya dead?” Darice’s response is “No, mon, I’m not dead.” He proceeds to get out of the sled, lead the team to hoist the 500 pound sled onto their shoulders and carry it through to the finish line. (It is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the watch.)

Looking around my yard this week, I have been asking my grass and bushes, “ya dead?” The week of Christmas, here in Atlanta, we had an unusual cold snap of below freezing temperatures for 4 days in a row. Some of you are smirking at my lament, but for Southern people and flora, it is a rarity.  It took another week for my yard to respond, but now, it is pitiful. It all looks some form of dead. My grass is yellow, winter flowers are brown and my bushes all have so many leaves underneath that it looks like they molted. Some even have black or whitish foliage that looks like they are literally burned. Researching through the Georgia Extension Service and the Urban Ag Council revealed that my plant life is suffering from “cold injury.” Their advice is that to assess what is in fact dead, I must be patient and wait until spring to see what grows. I am not a patient person. I want to help them heal faster or know what is dead so that I can move on.

It occurs to me that Christians’ lives can sometimes beg the question, “Are ya spiritually dead?” There is nothing that looks like spiritual “life” happening, and no growth in our relationship with the Lord.

A real and robust relationship with Jesus Christ is a beautiful thing. He gifts us with:

  • forgiveness for all of our mistakes and shortcomings.
  • hope that this world isn’t all there is.
  • knowledge that no matter what, you are loved and valued.
  • assurance that there is a beautiful life with our Lord in a true “heaven” when we leave this earth.
  • trust that we are never alone.
  • instruction and encouragement and comfort poured out to those who follow Jesus through His inspired Word and love letter to us: the Bible.

Because of these relational perks, we express our gratitude to our Lord by working our side of the relationship.

  • We spend time in communication with Him through prayer.
  • We grow in our relationship with Him by trying to become more like Him.
  • We work to get to know Him better by studying His Word so that we know what that looks like.

Through Jesus Christ, we love more purely, we serve without expectation, we hope despite all circumstances.

When we do not invest in our relationship with Christ, there is no growth in that relationship, there is less resemblance of Him in the way that we live, and our hope becomes burned as we question what life is really for.

Good news! We can avoid the “cold injury” that can occur during the seasons we aren’t thriving in the warmth of our relationship with Christ. We can be ready for any cold snap that could come: trouble with relationships, loss of something or someone that we value, things that cause us to weep for the human condition, a breech of trust that rocks our core…

Much like I go to the Extension Service for plant advice, we can go to God’s Word for spiritual advice.

John 15:5,6,8 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. It is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

If I remain in Him, I will avoid cold injury and bear much fruit. I will look and act and feel spiritually healthy and others will see that fruit and be drawn to it.

We will all suffer times of drought and times when our leaves droop a little. Praise Jesus that He allows us to turn around and return [to God], that our sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (recovering from the effects of heat or cold, reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord” Acts 3:19 Amp

We can enjoy a springtime of refreshing and growth for our souls when we stay connected to Jesus, and no one will take us for dead!