If you live in the South, you may remember the heat wave of 1980.  The Dallas/Fort Worth area endured 69 days that summer when the temperature exceeded 100 degrees, including one stretch of 42 straight days.  I was living in Montgomery, Alabama, at the time (roughly the same latitude as Dallas) and was preparing to enter my senior year of high school.  I had begun the summer working as a groundskeeper at Greenwood Cemetery, running a weed eater for 40 hours a week.  After a few weeks, I was approached by Billy Hilyer, now President of Faulkner University in Montgomery, who asked if I would be interested in working for him for the remainder of the summer constructing a new home for his family out in the country.  I gladly accepted the offer, eager to be freed from the monotony and solitary confinement of my weed eating work.

I wasn’t hired as a skilled laborer since I had no prior residential construction experience.  I was appointed Chief Go-fer and Grunt with significant Toting and Fetching responsibilities.  Pick up this, carry that, move this, now move it back, pick up a load of lumber at the building supply store, and haul off the scraps and trash to the county dump.  I really did enjoy the work.  I learned a lot and enjoyed the conversations with Billy and the pair of carpenters that he had hired to frame the house. 

The only real impediment to our work that summer was the heat.  Since it was regularly hitting and exceeding 100 degrees, we started driving out to the work site in the dark, began working at first light, then knocked off around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. when the heat had drained the last ounce of our energy.  After a few days of this routine, the two framers started bringing a large cooler every day that contained a couple of watermelons that were encased in crushed ice.  Each afternoon, after we stacked the materials, cleaned up the work area, and put away all the tools, we would sit down in the shade, break open the cooler, and feast on the ice-cold melons.  

It is hard to describe just how sweet and refreshing those watermelons were.  I am not sure if it was a physical reality or just my imagination, but on the first few swallows, I could feel the coolness sliding down my esophagus and into my stomach.  When you are that hot (and sweaty and grimy) and the melons are that cold, I guess it is possible.  It was a perfect way to end a hard day’s work in the sun.

“Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.” (Proverbs 25:25)

Just as cold watermelon can be to an overheated and fatigued body, so good news and an encouraging message can be to the spirit.  How many times has someone “made your day” by taking the time to give you a phone call, send you an email or Facebook message, or snail mail you an encouragement card?  The impact is further heightened when the contact comes from someone you haven’t seen or talked to in a long time and/or who lives very far away.  Just to know that this person still thinks about you, loves you, cares about you, and took the time to reach out to you is so meaningful and refreshing to our heart.  It can erase (or at least significantly minimize) the pain and frustration of a day in which multiple things may have gone wrong for you. 

So, take a moment and think about it.  Whose spirit can you refresh today? 

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