Extreme Heat

29861When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long. Day and night you punished me. My strength was gone as in the summer heat. Then I confessed my sins to you and didn’t hide my guilt. I said, “I will confess my sins to the Lord,” and you forgave my guilt. Psalm 32:3-5

Summer has so many benefits. There seems to be more opportunity to spend time outside with family and friends. We make special memories throughout the summer. We take advantage of many opportunities. But summer has some challenges as well. Heat can be oppressive. As I write this, much of the country is under an excessive heat advisory. Wildfires are raging in Colorado and other western states, and there are fire condition warnings throughout the Midwest. I’m sitting outside in the shade in the morning hours, but before long, I’ll retreat inside for the bulk of the day. There are many people who won’t have the option of retreating inside. Construction workers, firefighters, and others will do what they can to endure the heat. They’ll drink lots of water, wear protective clothes, and listen to their bodies to avoid overheating.

Getting overheated is an awful feeling. In extreme situations, people die from heat exhaustion. Many more people experience symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, rapid heart rate, and headaches. They become overwhelmed by heat.

Read through the above verses in Psalm 32 and consider the symptoms similar to heat exhaustion.

Even under what we believe to be good conditions as we enjoy summer weather and opportunities, there are dangers. And even under what we believe are good conditions in our lives, we are susceptible to sin. Dealing with sin can become like pushing through a hot summer day with no relief. We imagine we can push a bit further without water, walk a bit further without a break, or stay on the beach a bit longer without sunscreen.

Many years ago, my family visited the beach. I had fairly strict rules about beach time. We’d go out in the morning with sunscreen applied. We retreated to our room for lunch, games and rest time through the heat of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Then we’d slather the sunscreen on again and return to the beach for several hours. It was enough for the girls. It was enough for me. But another family member wanted more. He wasn’t getting much of a tan, with which he wanted to return from vacation. He decided to take his own approach one day. He didn’t go out with us in the morning. He waited until we came inside for our midday break, then he ventured out with the lightest spf sunscreen we brought with us. He stayed outside until mid-afternoon, and it wasn’t long before he became Lobster Boy. He felt sick and had chills. The only place he could get any comfort at all that night was sitting still on the couch. He was in agony. The lesson he learned lasted many years.

We think we can handle more exposure than we were ever expected to have. If we’re enjoying a good thing, we think we can have more of it. We think we can let our guard down. This phenomena happens even in the most unexpected places. Perhaps you regularly attend worship services. You get in the habit of a weekly service, and you’re consistent. Being consistent in worship is a good thing, right? But what happens when you start to take for granted that you have a safe place where you feel you belong? Do you begin to accept everything taught without filtering it through God’s Word? Are you shocked when newcomers don’t know the unwritten rules of where to sit and how to speak and behave? Do you find yourself nitpicking the smallest details of ministries, programs, and people? In the middle of a well-lit situation, you can forget to put on the protection, the armor of God, and slip into situations in which you’re no longer basking in the benefits of the light. You’re taking matters into your own hands, and the results will likely not be pretty. The same can happen in areas such as Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.

What are the dangers of becoming too comfortable in disciplines intended to draw you closer to God?

Summer is a fantastic spiritual season. You’re growing. Life is filled with color. Beautiful sounds and scents surround you. But it’s not a season of all fun and games. You still need to be on guard. You need to know the dangers around you. There’s danger in overexposure. There are insects carrying toxins. There are dangers in the activities you can enjoy only during the summer season. Even in the flourishing spiritual summer seasons, you must be attentive to God’s leading. He wants you to grow, but he wants you to do so in his timing and protection so that you can fully experience what he has planned for you, and in the process, your life will be what others around you need to see and experience.

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