We can't deny that Summer has arrived in Dixie-Land. Signs are everywhere. But we are never satisfied. For when it's winter, we wish for summer; when summer rears his head, we wish for beautiful fall, etc. Man is never content it seems. Right now, winter does sounds great!
When we were young, we wished time away; now that we are older, we long to pull back the days and extend our years 'just a bit more'. As loved ones and friends make their exit (death), we take notice at least for a while and ponder changes we need to make before the end. Lately, it seems we have been challenged so often. Like Russian roulette, it's a riddle of "who is next"? We humans are hard to please. God must shake His head often listening to us complain and whine! Summer is a good time to 'shape up' in more ways than one.
July, on the farm, was a slow-down month. Crops were 'laid-by', not much field work to do now until harvest. Only the garden needed daily attention. Shelling peas and shucking corn were daily chores for a couple of weeks; sawing and chopping wood for the winter months was a "must" as well. Daddy always liked to remind us boys 'we get to warm twice with this wood'. We knew what he meant about that -- sweat in July cutting it; warm our back sides at the fireplace in January. Even that still did not make it a lot of fun to do!
Summer was the time to make home-made ice cream as well. If we could flag down the ice-truck roaming the country roads, we could buy a 50-pound block that would survive several of the "dog days" of 100 degree weather. During that time (usually around July 4) we would crank out several gallons of ice cream. "Heaven - almost"! We rinsed salt off the ice and enjoyed ice tea for the season. Treats of summer for sure!
Tomatoes, squash and figs were on the the menu each day. Standing over the hot stove and cooking from dawn to dusk, Mama and Grandma made the old pressure cooker work overtime. "Storing up for the winter", they would say. Churning the morning cream yielded two delicacies: butter and buttermilk. It was hard to decide which was better; guess it was a "tie" for most farm hands. Buttermilk and cornbread get my vote now.
It seems there was always a "bee tree" back in the pasture for us to cut and 'rob' each summer. Sometimes it would yield a wash tub of sweet nectar. Only my daddy was 'robed' for the occasion. We learned to run fast through the woods trying to outrun a trail of bees chasing us. They always won! "Ouch" ! But what a treat to chew on the honeycomb and enjoy the fruit of their labor. Processed to store for a season, we enjoyed it through the winter.
We learned early in life that God provides for His children through nature and hard work. Various berries, nuts, honey, muscadines, mulberries, fruit trees, fowl, swine, milk, etc all were provisions we took for granted. But He was at work, taking care of our needs and too often we were unaware of it.
In July sometimes I attended 'protracted meetings' at a Baptist church nearby. It usually lasted two-weeks. Though we did not attend church regularly, I did get a couple of "applications of religion" in the summer - as my daddy would say. The church tried to get all "sinners in the community" to the church for some hard preaching. Though I knew what it was all about, I dare not 'cross over the white line'. Pride, fright, not sure of myself, etc -- were the excuses I made. (Years later, in college, I made a profession of faith in Christ. My regret is those precious years that passed me by without the joy of living a Christian life).
Yes, it is summer again (God's cycle), hot and dry in many places around the country. But even in a dry and thirsty season, God's love brings refreshing strength each new day. His mercies are new and sure as we awaken in the morning. He never sleeps nor slumber, so we know He is watching over us. So let's seize the day and be faithful to His cause regardless of the season. The Psalmist calls us blessed if we bear spiritual fruit in and out of season. If we plant our witness and testimony of God's grace firmly, then others will see His power at work in our lives. Regardless of the climate, the temperature and life's situations, God is always able to 'direct our paths is we seek him in all seasons of life'.
May you have a cool summer, refreshed with renewed strength from our Lord each day!