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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

How are you feeling today? Is your personal “gas” tank full, half-full, or empty? These questions were discussed a couple of days ago in the Sunday School class that I attend. The lesson background came from the book of Ecclesiastes and focused on the wonderful teachings of King Solomon. Most of us are familiar with Chapter three that begins with “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to harvest …” But I must confess that I was not as knowledgeable about the overall message of King Solomon as I should have been.

The general tone of the book is one of melancholy. Some might argue that Solomon was hopeless, tired, and discouraged. But he ends the book with exactly the true message – “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone.” You are probably asking where in the world I am going with this column.

Glad you asked… it is this time of year that I am just plain old tired (my grandmother used to say “sick and tired”). It has been a long and hot summer. As my wife and I have worked all summer in getting ready for our oldest to go off to college, this summer hasn’t been the slower pace and relaxed tenor of usual summers. After polling my classmates in Sunday School, I found that I was not the only one feeling this way. Many “gas” tanks were emotionally approaching empty.

I would argue that the mood in general is “tired”. We have endured a very long and nasty primary campaign season (four elections alone for the ninth congressional race). The economy has been a drag for over three years now. And just when we saw a few positive indicators that forecasted improvement, the business community in general became spooked by a whole hosts of issues.

Just reflect on the headlines of late - Ethics investigations, soaring deficits, Bush tax cuts expire / everyone’s taxes are going up, teacher layoffs, GDOT broke, etc. Now add a heaping spoonful of political mudslinging and what do you get? Business paralysis, voter apathy and fatigue, and in general a bad attitude!

The Dog Days of Summer are among us. The heat index soars to near record levels. Our utility bills rise just as sharply. We worry about the elderly, the two-a-days that our football players are enduring, and our school band performers. Will we survive? Of course we will.

Just as my extended family spent hot Sunday afternoons gathered under a large pine tree drinking Coca-Cola and eating peanuts, all of us are coping with the current season. We complain about the heat while looking forward to that first hint of fall when the high temperature barely reaches 80 degrees with little to no humidity.

Just as Solomon so poetically stated, there is a season for all things. Better times will return. The current political season will end. School will start back. Football games will be hard fought and exciting. And most importantly, our economy will improve. Jobs will be created. And business capital will be invested.

At the end of the day, we are a blessed nation. God has shown tremendous grace toward our nation. For this we should be grateful. And for this grace and for these blessings, we are obligated to look out for and to love our neighbors. How much more good could be done for those in need if that need came from a caring and loving citizenry, instead of an inefficient and bureaucratic government?

So as these final hot, dog days of summer try to wear you down - put on a smile, greet your neighbor, and be grateful for all that we have. May God continue to bless the world we live on, our nation, our state, and the wonderful Greater Dalton community!

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