The Dawg Days of Summer
It happened again. I was determined to set a new pace this year—to slow down, create margin and make space for God. It’s July. I looked at my calendar and realized that I had not taken a full day of rest since April 24. There was a day when I would proudly proclaim that, I’m the guy who “gets things done”—that I just love my job and enjoy working hard. I mentioned in my last blog how that got me to the point of exhaustion and put undue strain on my marriage and family, along with my soul.
But something was different this time. In January, I talked about “doing less for God”—of creating space for God to move and speak into my life. Yes, it was a full spring. This time my calendar was full, but not frantic. The spring brought more crises that needed responding to than the usual. But something was different. I had created space. There were moments each day blocked out to catch my breath. Admittedly, I bailed on a few days off in the midst, but there was a “Sabbath day” that hit a week or so ago.
I had signed up for a “Soul Care” day with a pastor friend at a retreat center north of town. Several times, I considered cancelling. After all, I had important things come up. I’m so glad I didn’t. So, in the midst of crises and needs all around me, I did the unthinkable—I disappeared. I took a day to feed my soul. I didn’t realize how parched I was as I drank in the time like huge gulps of cold water on a hot day. The time flew by. The “time”…the precious time…allowed me to rest, to think, to complete thoughts—thoughts that so often are interrupted by the hectic schedule of life. I prayed. I read my Bible. I sat still. I listened. I was alone—alone with God. I was refreshed, refocused and replenished.
When I was a kid, they used to call this time of year (July-August) the “Dawg Days of Summer.” It was that time when school was still out, your parents were at work, your vacations were over and there was NOTHING to do. It was a time to stretch out like the dog lazing in the sun on the back deck. The days were long and we were easily bored. BUT, those “dawg days” allowed us to reset and look forward to getting “back in gear.” They were important days that allowed our minds, our hearts and our souls to stop, realign and refresh.
I’m not sure there is such a thing as “dawg days” anymore. Just look around you at a stoplight and see how many people can’t resist picking up a cell phone and “maximizing the time.” Just consider how we strive to keep our kids and ourselves busy with “something”…anything to avoid having “nothing to do.”
The fruit of this has been a society that is stuck and doesn’t know how to rest. We’ve taught ourselves to function 24 hours a day, and we call it being productive.
I have to catch myself here. I don’t want to sound like the old man crying, “When I was a kid…” I think my point is that we need rest and our culture is not going to make it happen for us. So, consider your life right now. What brings rest and refreshment to your heart and soul? Consider disappearing for a day. Why? Because it actually makes life easier. Because Jesus modeled it for us. Because it allows us to intentionally “be with” Him. This is what brings potency to Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30—
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
It’s still summer. There is still time to focus on what one friend called “the discipline of nothingness.” Maybe there are a few “dawg days” yet to be found before the craziness of fall sets in. Consider making it happen…doing the unthinkable…disappearing. You just may find that your soul is thirsty and that God still speaks, and that stillness quenches.