Heat and Light
Texas is an all together different kind of hot. I thought I knew hot. I grew up just outside Washington, D.C., where 100-degree temperatures and 95 percent humidity are the summer norm. You don’t just sweat buckets. You sweat whole dumpsters. If you did drain the Swamp, you’d find another swamp. Swimming in red ink may be the only way to stay cool.
I also spent years in California’s San Fernando Valley. There 105-degree days stretch like traffic on the 405. “But it’s a dry heat.” Oh, yeah. Like, totally. You can grill Dodger Dogs on your forehead. Half of the dumb ideas out of Hollywood can be credited to heat stroke. Why do they have drive-by shootings in L.A.? It’s too hot to get out of the car.
But Texas? It raises hot to a whole other level. As Count Rugen does torture in The Princess Bride.
Stepping into a Texas summer day you feel the way a tackling dummy must feel when it’s hit by a Dallas Cowboy defensive end. The only difference between the air and an oil fire is that Red Adair isn’t around to put it out.
My wife who has endured the Valley heat, un-air conditioned attic theaters in Santa Monica and mid-summer dance classes in New York City, fell out during our first visit to Texas. “No way we’re moving here,” she said.
God said, “Wanna bet?”
I was reminded of that as the temperatures again topped 100 and we happened to be near the spot in Grapevine where Rusty nearly collapsed from contact with the air.
Sometimes God sends you into the furnace. Ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were tossed into the fiery furnace for remaining faithful to the Lord and running afoul of King Nebuchadnezzar. “But the fire had not had any power over the bodies of these men.” In fact, “not even the smell of fire came from them.” (Daniel 3:19-30)
Nebuchadznezzar was so stunned that he shouted: “Blessed be the God of Sadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him.”
Yes, there was a fourth figure in the fire who had “the appearance of a god.” Catch that. The Lord does not send us to endure the heat alone.
That’s a comfort. Something I need to tell myself as I dream of cool streams and mountain roads, and the green, green grass of home. God put us here. God will move us from here in his timing. And in the meantime, He is with us.
And perhaps there is a Nebuchadnezzer in the neighborhood who needs us where we are so he can see the Living God. How much more flame can you endure when you know it’s for a good and right reason?
Maybe you are in a valley of dry bones, searching on Zillow for homes in the land of milk and honey. But do you leave if God has told you to bring those bones back to life? Do you fly to a rain forest when God says to spend 40 days in the desert?
The Psalmist, who knew a thing or two about finding himself in hot spots on account of staying true to God, sang, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3)
So we dwell in the land to which we are sent. We set ourselves to the task He puts before us each day. We do so not as a chore, but with the comfort and loyalty we would show a friend.
And if you can’t stand the heat, call on the One who made the kitchen.
Lord, thank you for placing me exactly where you want me. For the chance to serve however you wish me to serve on this particular day. Thank you for showing me that even if the enemy has turned the furnace up three times as hot, you are not only with me, but the enemy is the one who will falter. Thank you for this land and its people and its unique ways. You make all things beautiful. Thanks for giving me eyes to see the beauty you put around me, even as the air around me sizzles. I pray for those who battle the brutal temperatures, and that they may find cool and shelter. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now, Lord. About those mosquitoes … .