Every February for the last four years I jumped in the Ohio River. Our church sponsored a “Polar Bear Plunge” and we used this time to raise awareness and money to battle Multiple Sclerosis. Every year the water temperature was 34 degrees. I cannot describe to you how cold it is to jump into what amounts to ice water. Last year I think we had about 15 people who jumped. And to be honest, when I found out I was being moved to another church one of my first thoughts was that I was not going to miss jumping in the river in February.
Then yesterday my district superintendent called. He said he was trying to get some pastors together to raise money for Imagine No Malaria. That’s a project of the United Methodist Church in which the church is trying to rid Africa of malaria. And in order for our district to raise money he has this idea for willing pastors to…. wait for it…. wait for it…. jump into a lake on February 1. As soon as he asked I knew I would say yes, even if I wasn’t looking forward to it. After I explained to him that I’d jumped into the 34 degree Ohio River the last 4 years in February, he said there was a caveat to this plunge. A twist, if you will. He said we would be jumping into Mount Storm Lake. Now that meant nothing to me, but the locals surely know about it. There’s a power plant on Mount Storm Lake and it uses the lake for cooling the turbines at the plant. Think pool heater. It takes in almost 1/4 million gallons of water a minute, recirculating the entire lake every 2 1/2 days. In the summer, the lake runs between 85 and 95 degrees and is wildly popular for swimming, kayaking, etc. In the winter the lake temperature rarely ever drops below 50 degrees. 50 degrees is still not warm, but neither is it ice water.
I don’t know what lesson I can pull from this for your benefit. Maybe it’s that God rewards our obedience. If we were jumping into the Potomac River I would have done it for God’s glory. But I’m much happier jumping into the ‘thermal lake’. God does reward our obedience, even when we can’t see it or feel it. I’m going to feel this reward, as in 15-20 degrees warmer.