well, here we are: july first and smack-dab in the middle of summer. typically at this point our brains are busy with independence day plans. our biggest decisions—hot dogs or hamburgers? potato salad or pasta? our greatest concern—the weather, and our minds set excitedly on friends, fireworks and some good, old-fashioned fun.
mercy! when i think of what the first week in july has traditionally been i find myself in need of a deep breath and a quick place to sit down. what is going on? what has happened to life as we know it? when will our days return to normal? and, even more importantly, will normal ever fully return?
i don’t ask those questions flippantly or ignorantly. it doesn’t matter who we are, where we live, or what our take, most of us have a deep level of concern for what is going on in our world this summer.
and let’s be honest, we are as far from summertime as we could have ever imagined.
"summertime and the living is easy." i've always loved ella fitzgerald's version of gershwin's song. she recorded it in 1968, the year i was born. i love that song and i love summer. who doesn't? summer has always suggested longer days, easy living and a lighter heart. the length of day remains true, of course, but certainly the lightness of heart is at best ephemeral. it doesn’t make a bit of sense in this season of beauty. the flowers in my backyard continue to bloom, the birdsong each morning brilliant, the georgia rain always possible, the rising humidity stifling and certain, even the quiet drone of bees is consistent. all of it as beautiful and busy and normal as ever.
except it's not.
hanging from of our car mirrors are well-worn masks dangling above victoriously acquired bottles of hand sanitizer. our phones and laptops almost daily tuned to news reports and information websites. our plans altered, our schedules more emptied, and our days often jumbled.
some of us, like the backyard birds and bees, doing our best to move on in our self-arranged cloud of normalcy. we are trying. all of us. perhaps, at different levels and in different ways, but most of us doing our best to figure it out. at least figuring out how to breath safely … how to breath at all.
our daughter, trying to make some money this summer for college classes, is working long hours at athleta every day. 5 to 7 hours in a mask monitoring the small number of people allowed into the store at one time. women, also in masks, spending their dollars on expensive athletic-wear trying--at least for a brief retail-therapy moment--to pretend life will go back to what we’ve always known it to be. i stopped in the other day to say hey to sarah and was struck with the paradox of normal/not-normal---masked women debating over leggings in eggplant or charcoal.
i came home heavy with it. and sitting on my porch i was hit with how--even in these frantic, frustrated times--God is so faithful in His promises. we forget that. it is easy to forget. but the birds and flowers and, yes, even our clothing … all of it carefully addressed in His Word. He cares for it all. He cares for us all. whether we are in a pandemic or in something more like paradise, He is there and He has a promise for us. even when we don’t know the next steps or the next spike or the next set of rules … He does.
and, i don’t know about you, but the uncertainty of this particular summertime nudges me to draw closer to His perfect Word.
in Matthew 6 He tells us to “look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. are you not much more valuable than they? can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
“and why do you worry about clothes? see how the flowers of the field grow. they do not labor or spin. yet i tell you that not even solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. if that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?”
as created beings our lives look different each day. and, from all i am seeing, this isn’t going to reverse itself any time soon. as i read and listen, i realize, more and more, we don’t have the information, we don’t have the answers, we don’t really have a clue. when science and medicine and people and politicians can’t figure it out or factor it all into anything absolute, than as created beings we must see clearly our own insufficiency and bow before the All-Sufficient Creator. we must.
i know our nature is inclined to want to be in charge and to be right and to be on top of it all. oh goodness do i ever have that same hard-wiring in me. ask my family, i love information. i love being right. i love being in the know. i love having the inside scoop or the better instinct or the best potential outcome. i constantly want to be in control of my world and my ways. i want to self-govern. i do. i do. i do.
and i confess it. i am heartsick with it.
i can't help but believe it might benefit all of us as created beings to acknowledge more the one who created us. to acknowledge Him as omnipotent and omniscient and to bow before Him. each day. again and again. as many times as it takes to surrender our selves and our self-made securities and worrisome uncertainties to Him.
Him—the one who continues to bring summer and each new season despite the world’s pandemic; the one who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers of the fields and cares for each one of us more than we could possibly understand at all times … especially in these times.
bow before Him.
“for the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
in His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
the sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.
come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” psalm 95
in this world which is wild in fear and spinning in futility, He is faithful. He is worthy. He is God.