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Houseboating in the heat

by davesandel on August 4th, 2022

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest

            (click here to listen to or read today’s Scriptures)

Houseboating in the heat

I have been drinking a lot of water! And this afternoon Margaret and Andi talked in the air conditioning while Miles, Jasper and I played in the apartment pool for awhile. Water in the desert!

In the heat of afternoon we took long naps. Alexa tells me that, at 8:10 pm, it’s 98 degrees outside. Driving to the airport I saw several work crews pouring concrete on highway construction sites, working under various lights and in constant danger of being hit by speeding cars. But they are getting themselves and the concrete away from the scorching sun.

In India, my friend Chris told me that half the working population works outside. And although we are suffering at 105, it’s even hotter there.

I appreciate the desert imagery in Jeremiah and Isaiah, and the gift God gives his people – gifts of water, and milk, and wine, and shade under the tree. Our air conditioning shortcut won’t last forever. We will need God’s liquid gifts sooner rather than later.

I visited Las Vegas, New Mexico in March and really enjoyed my time there. Two days ago they had less than 50 days of drinking water left, after a forest fire contaminated the river they draw their water from.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation.

As the sun burns through the atmosphere hotter than ever, I think of Jonah under the broom tree, sweating it out with God. He wasn’t happy with God’s generosity to Jonah’s enemies. He tried to claim God for himself and his people, but God would have none of it.

I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall return to you.

But God’s intentions didn’t include the retribution Jonah expected, not after the people of Nineveh repented and tore their clothes and wept. They didn’t try to appease God, they just recognized their selfishness, idolatry and sin. Perhaps God was tired of the Israelites’ conceit, and here was a people falling down in shame.

For you are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

For the last twenty years my friend Shannon has helped coordinate a monthly guys get-together called Houseboat. For the first hour or so, lots of guys jump in the water and talk while they float around.

“We had an exceptionally rich HB Tuesday night for some reason! Guys who haven’t been in a while, new guys, deep check-in, prayers for physical and emotional healing, good connection time all around.”

Jesus admonished Peter. “You are an obstacle to me! You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

A big reason Houseboat works is a noticeable lack of “conceit” in the regulars, the guys who have been showing up for years. They show they know they are sinners too. Jonah might have a hard time at that meeting, expecting to meet Pharisees but finding publicans instead. Texas hubris makes many people, places, and times here a little too big, a little too special, but the folks at Houseboat laugh and refuse to play that game.

(Jeremiah 31, Psalm 51, Matthew 16)

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