When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they...
The extended drought and unprecedented triple-digit temperatures we’ve experienced here in the Midwest (and across the country, really) have made for quite an interesting start to the summer, following an unseasonably mild winter. I’m promised myself not to complain about the heat just because if some high summer temperatures are the payback for only experiencing one (mild) blizzard this past winter, I’d be quite content about that. Now, I know that many people are suffering in this weather, and a regretful number have lost their lives. But that is all the more reason why I need to keep my “cool” even when it’s hard to stay physically cool when it’s 104º outside.
Full disclosure: today is only in the low 80s here. But through last weekend, triple digits were a daily occurrence. I heard many complaints as people sweltered, and some probably were justified: from people who work outside, from those with no air conditioning, and at least a groan from myself when I thought about my next electric bill. But I made a choice to keep my “cool” and treat the challenge as a spiritual exercise.
First, I chose to be grateful that I don’t work outside in the heat all day, and I also don’t go in and out between heat and air conditioning all day either. I chose to say a prayer for those that I know do have those work situations: friends working at day camps, the express delivery people, the young man who delivers water to our office, and the woman who takes care of our plants. Next, I chose to be grateful that I not only spend my workday in an air conditioned environment, but I have air conditioning at home too. My home AC didn’t shut off probably for two weeks straight, and it couldn’t keep up with the intense heat enough to get below 78º in the hottest part of the day, but… at least I have it and that’s dramatically cooler than what’s on the other side of the balcony doors! When the relief of a dip in the mercury arrived Saturday night, I heard something I hadn’t heard for so many days that it nearly startled me: my AC shut off! It finally cooled to the set temperature and decided to take a well-deserved break. I marveled.
Futher, my attitude of gratitude caused me to remember the days when, growing up, I had to keep washcloths by the bed to cool off with on blazing summer evenings without AC. It also made me appreciate the many other blessings that we usually consider ordinary: electricity, clean water, and a toasty car to drive home from the office in. What’s more… that car enables me to get to the gym so I don’t have to workout in my 78º house, or, even worse, outside!
Certainly there are so many other paths of gratitude I can explore with this simple exercise… but what moves you to gratitude and praise when you truly fix your mind on how God both blesses and spares us? Choosing to praise Him for the things right in front of us that we usually consider least will surely stir up even greater praise when experiencing more obvious blessings. So in each day, choose to squelch complaint, focus every thought on Christ, and stay “cool” under pressure!