The Dog Days of Summer By Tonya Jewel Blessing
dog days plural noun
Definition of dog days
the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
“The words ‘dog days of summer’ might conjure up images of canines panting in the heat, but the origin of the phrase actually has to do with the stars. The phrase dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who would keep track of the seasons by looking up at the sky. The star Sirius was known as the “dog star”…When Sirius would appear in the sky just before the sun, near the end of July, that marked the beginning of the very hottest days of the year.
My Dog Days
I have lived in Columbus, Montana for approximately two months. Although, I moved from South Africa, where at times it is extremely warm, this Dog Days season has been rough. By the end of the day, especially if I have spent time in the Montana sun, I feel bush, beat, drained, debilitated, wasted, worn, done-in, done-for, and dog-tired.
I was in Billings several days ago and witnessed a man sitting on the sidewalk next to a bicycle. His head was between his knees. He was surrounded by a group of people, most talking on their phones or taking pictures of the obviously overheated gentleman. I pulled into a parking lot some distance from the crowd, some who were “Lookie Lous” and others visibly concerned and wanting to help. Another person was not needed to ask questions. I prayed quietly in my car for the distraught man, and soon heard the sirens of an ambulance approaching.
Heat comes in a variety of forms: physical heat from extreme weather; emotional heat from feelings of frustration, anger, or even pain; and spiritual heat. The Bible does not use the term “spiritual heat.” It is my description to explain when life is overwhelming, natural resources are depleted. and the only help available is from above.
In times of extreme heat there are things that we can do to help:
- Drink cold liquids – Refreshment is found in God’s Word. One of the key ways to find relief when things are overwhelming is to read the Bible. In the Gospels, the woman at the well came to draw natural water but left with spiritual water that would change her life and community. Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (KJV)
- Depart from areas of extreme heat – It is important to walk away from situations that create unrest. Drama is best watched on Netflix and not lived out day-to-day. Walking away doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t care. It can simply mean that a person needs a break from the heat to find solitude and peace. Jesus often left the crowds and even his disciples for solitude. He needed time alone with the Father. Luke 4:42 says, At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. (NIV)
- Dip in cool water – In the Bible, water is very symbolic. It represents a washing away of the old and emerging with something new. A change in perspective often brings relief from extreme heat. Listening to worship music is a great tool for putting life’s struggles in the right frame of reference. “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” Martin Luther
- Decrease activity – Too much activity can rob people of the pleasures of living. Being overly busy and running from here to there is common today, yet the Bible encourages people to rest. The Ten Commandments include the need for having a personal Sabbath, a time where individuals rest in God and remember His goodness.
- Dress lightly – Wearing a winter coat with a hat and gloves on a summer day seems absurd. Yet, spiritually speaking, people often overdress. They have layers and layers in their attire. Matthew 11:30 says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Layers of worry, fear, disappointment, and discouragement are removed when the Lord is invited to direct our wardrobe.
When we see sleepy dogs stretched out under a shade tree resting during the heat of the day, I think it’s important to chuckle at their cleverness and to consent to our personal need in escaping extreme temperatures.
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Tonya is the award winning author of three books: The Whispering of the Willows, The Melody of the Mulberries, and Soothing Rain. The books are available on Amazon and Apple. Tonya is also the pastor at Columbus Assembly of God church in Columbus, Montana, and the co-director/co-founder of Strong Cross Ministries South Africa.