August

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.”

Augustus Caesar

The word august actually means inspiring reverence, supreme dignity, majestic, venerable, or eminent. The month of August is named after Augustus Caesar. I can see how some would connect the idea of majesty and dignity with a ruler of the Roman Empire; however, I am not so sure how it is connected to the month of August in Alabama.

August is usually one of the worst months of summer. For some it is terrible because it represents the end of summer and the return of the school year. For others, it is the ironic combination of humidity and drought conditions. How can the grass be so dry in some yards while everyone drips with perspiration from the level of moisture in the air and the blistering sun overhead?

For my mother, I am sure the month prior to my birth must have been even more unbearable. According to the doctor, I should have been born near the beginning of August, but I came around Labor Day. So, the term pregnant pause took on new meaning. The days must have been long and hot, and it was the height of canning season, which made it even hotter. I remember childhood summers washing and chopping vegetables under the pecan tree outside in order to avoid the heat of the kitchen as the pressure cooker pushed the thermometer even higher inside. Would it ever end?

Then came September with the promise of fall and cooler temperatures. For my mother, it meant the end of a long pregnancy. For me, in childhood, it meant the return to school. I loved school both for the books and the air-conditioning. I appreciated both because of August, because it had been a hot month full of picking and canning from sun-up to sundown. Now, I sat in a cool classroom and read, one of my favorite activities, all the more wonderful for its absence. I’m sure my mother felt the same way about the absence of us kids for a few hours a day.

To many people the entire year of 2020 has been an August, a trek through a wilderness filled with constant threat, but like all things this will pass. While the phrase is not directly traceable to a specific scripture, it is a biblical concept. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Everything on earth is temporary. It too will pass, no matter what it is.

However, there is a reason for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” So, while I wait for this August to pass, I also think about the purpose of this time. What is it God wants to do in my life? As Christians, what can we take with us into September or 2021 for that matter? What will we do with what we’ve been given? The world may have given us lemons, but the question remains: will we make sour faces or will we make lemonade? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting thirsty.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”

Psalm 42:1

Drip or Fountain?

My cat Meep is fascinated with moving water and loves to drink and play with the slow drip at my kitchen faucet. She sits in the sink and catches the drips on her tongue or even on her head. Sassy, the calico cat, washes her paws in the water bowl and then washes her face. Rudy, the shop cat at work, will often drink out of the toilet bowl instead of the water bowl I set out for him if I don’t keep an eye on him. It amazes me how they will go out of their way to drink the least satisfying sources of water and play with the good sources, but are we often guilty of the same thing?

God provides a fountain flowing with living water if we will only drink of it, but how often do we go for less satisfying sources? We submerge ourselves in all kinds of pursuits, trying to quench a thirst that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God. Some people chase after wealth or fame, some after worldly pleasures, and even others dedicate themselves to a religion. However, none of these will fill the God-sized hole in our hearts.

It is like those days when you have a craving, a taste for something that you can’t identify. You eat everything in the pantry, but none of it will satisfy that craving. It is not until you finally realize what you are in need of that you can satisfy your craving. All the other foods leave you wanting more and often have the down side of causing weight gain, which only makes you sluggish, just as chasing after the worldly pleasures often leaves you weighted down. They are poor substitutes for the real thing.

When we finally recognize our need for God and allow Him to take His place in our lives, then we can finally feel satisfied. It is an eternal fountain that will quench our thirst forever. If we will only give up the substitutes, the drips, and drink at the fountain, then we will never thirst again.