BY REV. JENNIFER HESEBECK - EXCELSIOR AND ZION UMC AND MILFORD UNION MEMORIAL CHURCH
After a long winter here northwest Iowa, suddenly all complaints have shifted gears to find fault with the heat waves we've been experiencing. I can't say as I disagree with the many comments I've heard, we seem to have gone from snowstorms directly to the dog days of summer.
And speaking of dogs and summer … my American bulldog, Bear, just showed me a little life lesson (a sermon!) I’d like to share with you:
And, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest — Zechariah 1:11
Heat waves are a fact of summer in this area. When one hits, the Lakes become bombarded with tourists and locals alike, swimming and boating, but there are also a lot of local folks that are living their regular work and home routines. The heat is oppressive and the motivation to work outdoors disappears quickly when greeted with a 100-degree day. A lethargy settles over the populace; even my dog is affected. The minute Bear steps outside our house and senses the temperature hovering above 90, he does an about-face.
I try to encourage him: "Come on, Bear," I coaxed him out one afternoon last week, "let's walk down to the mailbox."
He gave me one of those pleading looks dogs are so good at and then set out in the direction of the nearest shade tree, moving slowly, deliberately. I tried to get him to follow me down the driveway but he was having none of it.
I walked to our mailbox and back only to notice that Bear had indeed found a shady spot on our yard and settled himself for a nap. I wanted to tell my canine friend that he was being lazy, but I had to admit the heat didn't exactly make me feel like doing any spontaneous aerobics either. It was then that a picture, a memory from just the day before, flashed in my mind. It had reached 98 degrees outside and as I drove through the Lakes Area I noticed people everywhere, relaxing in the shade. Parents had pulled the kiddie pools out of storage and children were wading sedately in the cool water as the adults looked on from their lawn chairs. I saw people stretched out on blankets on their lawn — some were reading, some appeared to be sleeping, some were just sitting peacefully talking with neighbors or friends. Nobody was mowing the lawn that afternoon, or working in the garden, people were just trying not to overheat. They were being still.
Then I snapped back to the present. It was easily 100 degrees outside that afternoon, and Bear was right. What was all the hurry about, especially in this heat? Slow down. Take a break.
We often get so busy in our schedules we don't take the time to just be still (especially "Be still and know that I am God," time), but that day the heat forced limited activity.
I slipped my shoes off and sat down in the shade next to my buddy. That afternoon, just for a little while, was going to be one of those times when nothing was going on. And that was good.
Relax. Re-group. Rejuvenate. Count your blessings and just be still for a few moments.
Lord, sometimes You need to tell me when to slow down, because I'm not always as smart as my dog.