We often take air-conditioning for granted. Don’t misunderstand me: my air-conditioner works fine, and I’ve never had–and hope never to have–any problems with it. But on days like Monday and Tuesday of this past week, when the thermometer taps out at over 90°, the heat index sours, and the humidity is stifling, we often take air-conditioning for granted.
Add to that the reality that prior to air-conditioning, fashion often dictated that you had to be miserably hot. Arthur Miller, the playwright, once wrote that in the 1920s “A South African gentleman once told me that New York in August was hotter than any place he knew in Africa, yet people here dressed for a northern city. He had wanted to wear shorts but feared that he would be arrested for indecent exposure.”
To have to put up with the heat while wearing a suit, even if it was cotton or linen, before the invention of wicking polyester must have been really fun. I remain eternally grateful that they now make clerical shirts in wicking fabric. I’m sure that certain pastors of a certain age reading this will likely think to themselves, “How foolish he sounds! In my day clericals were made of heavy wool, and of course the earth was hotter back then, and I had to walk five miles in 100° weather (uphill both ways) just to make it to church on Sundays.”
Indeed, however, I remain ever glad that air-conditioning exists. Otherwise, on hot days, the answer is to go outside and find the nearest shade or stream.
The Sons of Korah open up Psalm 42 with “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (v. 1-2a, ESV) On most days, do our souls really pant for God in the same way our bodies pant for water after walking in the heat and humidity? Do we spend most days saying “You know, I could really go for some God today,” or “Do you have any God? He’s just what I need and want right now.” I think, agreeing with the Rev. Dale Meyer, that most days we often live as practical atheists. We pull God out of the box on Sunday, and then the rest of the week, we pack Him neatly up in the closet and live out our lives as if He didn’t exist. Sure, we might take Him down while saying grace at mealtimes, if we say grace, but the rest of the time, we’ve got other things to focus on. Work, family, bills, and the stresses of everyday life.
And so, today, on all days, and especially on particularly hot days, I invite you to contemplate the words of the Sons of Korah: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” We should allow ourselves to thirst for God, for surely Christ has told us that “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14, ESV). It wouldn’t be smart of us to go out on a hot day and forget to drink water. It’s likewise not smart of us to live our lives without being nourished by God.