President Harry S. Truman, our nation’s 33rd President, was well known for using the phrase, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” The phrase means, “If an activity is too difficult, or the pressure of a situation is too much for a person to handle, then perhaps it would be best to stop doing it and/or leave.” I think most people have experienced those times in life in which the heat was on and we just wanted to escape our present situation and find relief.
In my early working days, I worked a few summers to help prime tobacco from some of the local farmers. Priming tobacco, pulling the leaves off tobacco stalks, was indeed one hot job. One row of tobacco at a time you walked, bent over, pulling off the leaves that were ready and then tossing the leaves into a nearby trailer pulled by a tractor. The rows were often long, and it was always a relief to get to the end of a row as there would be a cooler of water to get a drink from before moving onto the next row. The water was a welcomed relief when the heat was on.
The atmospheric temperature today in Richmond, Virginia is triple digits; that is, 100+ degrees. We are under a heat advisory which tells us to avoid too long of periods of exposure to the heat. And indeed, it can be dangerous health wise to be in the heat too long. Well fortunately, we do have places to escape the heat. Air conditioning is nice. An electric fan can also bring some relief. And if you are able, a dip in a swimming pool in the midst of the summer heat can be a nice getaway.
However, there are times in life in which the heat is on in other ways where simply sliding into an air-conditioning room is not an option. There are those times of stress, anxiety, pressure, fear, frustration, and mental exhaustion that leave us tired, weary, and depleted from the heat that often bears down upon us in life. In such times it is easy to dry up and wither away when the heat is on.
As a people of faith, we are not immune from those heat stressed experiences that can bear down upon our lives. There are times in our lives in which we feel the heavy heat of life bearing down upon us, draining us of life, and leaving us in danger of withering away. The prophet Jeremiah, speaking to the people of Judah in just such a difficult time said,
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17: 7-8
For Jeremiah, the heat will come. However, what matters is where you are planted. Jeremiah invites us to trust in the Lord when the heat is on in our lives. When we trust in God, Jeremiah contends that it is like being a tree planted by water with roots extending into a stream drawing life even when life dries up around us. Every person needs a source of life. The question then to ask ourselves is “what is my source?” In whom do we trust when the heat is on and the stress of living in the heat is bearing down upon us? Where do we turn to for relief? When we are thirsty for hope where do we go.
In the Gospel of John 7: 37-38, we hear Jesus speak, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Jesus is the living water that we can turn to when we are thirsty for relief, hope, and life. Indeed, Jesus is the only true source of life when the heat is on. All the other wells of the world will eventually dry up and leave us thirsty. In faith, we can trust in the limitless supply of life-giving water that is found in Jesus. When we allow our roots to be planted in him, we can find life even when the heat is on.
Sometimes the kitchen is hot, and we just want to get out of it. Life can leave us feeling stranded in the kitchen with our arms full of pot and pans, sweltering in the heat, and ready to give up. Jesus invites us to trust in him during these difficult times and to receive the life-giving water he offers. The heat is on, but so is God’s life-giving water in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to live thirsty. Jesus is always just a sip away.