There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. - Isaiah 4:6
I just started a “Gentle Yoga” class at the Y. Not far into the class, as I attempted a vague version of the Downward Dog, my hands and feet started to slip from perspiration.
If you are unfamiliar with the Downward Dog position, it’s an inverted ‘V” with your palms on the ground, elbows locked, your butt in the air, and your legs straight with your feet firmly planted. Real attractive. Anyway, my sweaty hands and feet began sliding further and further away from each other until I was in danger of executing the very dangerous and lesser known Downward Faceplant.
In that warm and humid exercise room, even the smallest of effort made the sweat pour. In my mind I was saying, “I hate summer.” Yes, it’s true. Most people would say that they hate or dislike winter, but summer with its heat, humidity, bugs, and sleepless nights is my least favorite season.
Where the people of Israel and Jesus lived, the sun with its scorching heat was not just uncomfortable, it was life-threatening. Shade trees were hard to come by and water was even more scarce. You’ll find in the Bible references to the heat of day, the sun, the withering effects of the sun, and the welcome relief of the shade. Also, you’ll find mentions of wind, waves, storms, and the like. In that climate, those extremes of weather were not uncommon.
It seems we’ve been treated to that kind of weather quite a bit lately - hot and humid weather followed by some terrific local storms. Both extremes are dangerous in their own rights and uncomfortable at the very least.
Just as familiar are the inward experiences of scorching emotions, withering hope, the shade of compassion, the cool winds of love. We’ve weathered storms of doubt, fear, and faith.
We learn inward things from outward experiences. God has so arranged the world that we humans have ample examples to pull from when life becomes too hot for us to handle or too stormy for us to find our way.
I especially like Psalm 121:5-8 where the psalmist writes:
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
May these words give you the cool balm of the strength of God’s presence in your life, all day and every day. God protects you because God loves you. Nothing can ever change that.
And keep a good thought for me as I sweat with the other oldies in our yoga class. I’m told that if I use chalk on my hands and feet, the sliding problem should be solved. So, if I look a little paler than usual, it only means that I used a lot of chalk recently. And I still hate summer…