Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rare, Medium Well, or Well Done?

No, we are not having steak today--the headline of our local paper, the Weimar Mercury, proclaims today, "Weimar Area Bakes in 100-Plus Degrees".  The article that accompanies the story tells the same information that we have been gathering via the newscasts on television, that this July was the hottest ever in Texas and that the drought that we have been suffering with continues.  Our ray of hope called Tropical Storm Don fizzled out last week and only brought about an inch of rain to the far Texas valley, which I am sure they appreciated.  Our beautiful blue Texas skies continue to be blue and cloud free most days.  We all look at the sky and wish for a dark spot to arise only to be disappointed time after time. 

When will the heat end?  When will the drought end?  When will it rain?  These are all questions that many are asking and to be honest, there is no answer to satisfy the questions.  It will rain when it rains and it will be cooler when it happens.  Most likely, it will be September or later when things change because that is when it usually happens in this part of the world.  Cold fronts rarely if ever make it this far south until September at the earliest and most years it is October before we have one that really makes a difference. 

I grew up over near Beaumont, Texas near a small town that some have actually heard me name and we used to have what we called "Blue Northers" that came through in the fall.  Living south of a paper mill that was about 10 miles away, we could smell the change in the air as well as feel it when it happened.  The smell is not pleasant but it was a sign unto us that the air would be turning cooler.  I remember as a boy standing outside our home and looking northward at the dark, gray-blue sky, menacing and a little scary, but still awe-inspiring also.  Sometimes there would be rain to accompany the cold front coming through but sometimes it would simply overtake us, the temperature dropping 20 to 30 degrees in a matter of a few minutes and the smell of the paper mill filling our nostrils.  Most of the time my mother would yell at me to come in the house and I would take my time retreating because I loved to be outside and feel the change happen to me even as it happened to the world around me. 

Ah, what we would give for a blue norther on this day, August 4.  What a miracle it would be indeed.  It would be one to add to the record books just as these hot days are doing on a daily basis when we hear the newscast from the local cities.  Our local paper next week would have a big bold headline, "Weimar Temperatures Drop 20 degrees in 5 minutes--in August!!"  We would talk about it all over town and it would make the news in all the surrounding cities too.  It would refresh our spirits and make us laugh and talk and even sing.  If it were accompanied by rain, who knows--some of us may even dance and sing in the rain because we are so happy. 

Let's admit it....August summer days are not really newsworthy.  Even normal August weather is just ho-hum.  When the impossible seems to happen, though, it is news.  It just so happens that the impossible that we are experiencing is what we dread instead of what we rejoice in happening.  We fear the effects of the weather that are foreboding and speak of lack instead of abundance.  We want it to go away because we cannot bear to think about what it would be like if this was the rule rather than the exception.  What if....Texas was like this every summer?  What if....rain rarely happened where we live and a vast new desert was emerging in a place where there once was green and lush surroundings?  What if....?

In the church that I pastor we have a saying, "God is still speaking."  We usually want to think about God speaking to us in the good and pleasant events of life but what if God speaks to humans through every part of life?  Can God speak to us through a drought?  Can God speak to us through extremely hot weather?  What is God saying to us when we experience parts of life that we would rather avoid?  What does God say to you when you are hot and thirsty?  What if God is still speaking to you and to me in this time and place, even when we wish things were different than they are?  What would God's message to you and me be? 

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