A long story has been building all summer, so grab a glass of lemonade and sit a spell.
It begins with my title of “Window Nazi.” In northern Montana, to have central air conditioning is a rare luxury. We do have air conditioning at our house, but it is constructed of two box fans set strategically in two windows of our home. Nights are usually very cool here, so we can suck in the cold air with the fans. Then, in the morning I wake up and close the windows and the curtains at the first hint of sunlight.
“Honey,” said Matt very firmly one morning. “It’s 58 degrees in the house. Can we please take the fans out of the windows?”
“Best. Summer. Ever!” I said, with hands raised like a gymnast who has just stuck it.
Okay, so there’s my extreme dislike of heat. Hatred, actually. And I’m too vocal about my feelings, so I have always griped and complained my way through the summer, wishing it over.
At the beginning of this summer, the Lord said to me, “Sit down.”
“Yes, sir.” I said.
“We are not going to complain about the heat this summer,” he said to me, the way a nurse says, “It’s time for our medicine.”
“Yes, sir.” I said.
That very week I was reading a devotional book, and the author said that followers of Christ do not complain. Not even about the weather.
Who doesn’t complain about the weather?
Paul gives this instruction to followers of Christ:
Do everything without complaining…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe… (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV)
So I submitted to the Lord, you guys. I didn’t tell anybody, because it seemed like a really personal assignment. I committed to take the weather as it came.
We proceeded to have the coolest, wettest summer I can ever remember. I wondered if the Lord had just been testing me. Did I pass the test of submission, so he eased off on the heat? Hmmm.
But then I got to my Mom’s house for a week of vacation, at the beginning of August, and do you know what she said to me? “The air conditioner is broken, and the replacement part won’t be in until next week.”
“What?!” escaped from my lips, but then I sucked in all the complaining words I normally would have said. Sucked ‘em right in.
“Okay, Lord,” I said. “No complaining.” End of summer final exam. I’m a teacher, so I know how these things work.
Then my brother, who was also with us at my mom’s, decided to take his girls hiking one day. Matt and Caleb were going to go, and I had just prayed the day before about getting some special time with Caleb before he left for college, plus it would good to have that experience with my brother and nieces. But my brother was preparing to hike in the middle of the day.
Maybe you do not understand what a freak I am about the heat. FREAKO WOMAN. (Can you see my husband nodding too energetically?)
Guys, I went hiking. It was in the 90’s I think, and there’s no way you’re going to tell me it was “dry heat” and think that’s going to make it better. We stopped under every shade tree on the way up, because the Lord put in no caveat about not being whimpy. Just no complaining, he said. And it was a wonderful afternoon. I watched everybody jump off a waterfall into a freezing Wyoming river. It was special time with my family, and I’m glad I went.
Then last night the Lord put me to another test. Our Texas friends have a BBQ stand set up at the fair, and went to help them serve food for three hours.
“Oh wow,” Matt said, looking at his phone. He gave me a sickening look.
“What?” I said.
“It’s supposed to be 91 degrees,” he replied.
Does grimacing count as complaining? No, I don’t think so.
“But on the bright side,” he said, “the next day it’s supposed to be 67 and rainy.” Not helpful.
Serving BBQ for three hours inside a building with no AC and a heated griddle working full time? I love my friends so, so much.
So much. I mean, really.
I fought down panic about being unbearably hot at the fair, but in this “no complaining” trial, I’m learning that being obedient comes with the Lord’s help to persevere. He is a teacher who works alongside his students. And look -I did not die, as I thought I might:
Oh, and I don’t even have time to tell you about the resort Matt and I stayed at, as a romantic stop on the way home from vacation last week. The resort that had no air conditioning! The lady said, “Wait, let me check -okay, good. Your box fan is in here.”
Funny, Lord. Very funny.
The conclusion to all this is that God wants us to grow inside, and my experience is that he will target a specific trouble spot for a season. The cool thing (ha!) is that it’s so personalized. I know I just said that in my last blog post, but it really is one of the most incredible aspects of choosing to follow Christ. He knows just what we need to improve on and how to help us grow bigger inside.
Well, this isn’t the typical “what I did this summer” essay like teachers make you write, but learning not to complain about the weather is my summer in a nutshell.
And what about you? Did the Lord pinpoint a trouble spot in your soul and do some intensive work in you this summer? I’d love to hear your story.