We were at a State Park near Waco as the thermometer was pushing 100. Whose idea was it to go camping in August in Texas anyway?  

So, we headed to town to look for some air-conditioned relief and tortillas at the HEB.

But it was actually in the parking lot that I learned how to keep cool.

When we returned to our SUV, we spied a grackle prancing beneath it.

A grackle is a blackbird with a glossy-iridescent body that looks like it’s been slightly stretched.  They are exceptionally savvy at surviving.  They will follow a farmer’s plow to catch unearthed mice and wade shallow waters to catch fish.  They might pluck and eat leeches from the legs of turtles and steal worms from the mouths of other birds. 

So, what was a grackle doing beneath our SUV?  Surviving! 

It was one of the few places a bird could find some shade, but also a great place to catch a drink.  The bird was sipping from the hose that drained off the condensation from the air conditioning unit on the vehicle.

I thought, “How smart!”  The water supply was clean and cool.  It was in the shade and it was even convenient – he didn’t even have to bend over to draw it.

As I stood there with the heat burning through the soles of my shoes, I was somewhat jealous. 

For I must cope with the heat of another kind.   Life was uniquely tough prior to the virus – now it’s become tediously difficult.

Once upon a time I could make a reservation to camp online, then show up at the State Park to be greeted by a smiling attendant who directed us to our site. 

This time I had to make an online reservation, then do an additional preregistration online, then provide more info by phone.  I had to arrive during a narrow window of time and when we showed up, we found the park office was locked to visitors. 

I had to deal with a lone masked ranger (but no Tanto) in the parking lot who was barking orders.  We then located our isolated camp site to find our sanitized registration packet.  And to top it off, we were required to wear masks in the shower house. 

I believe I even saw a swarm of bees that were socially distancing.

On the same trip, we toured a cavern at a State Park.  The guide told us that the state initially required him to wear a mask but did not require it of the visitors.  2 months later the state required a mask of the visitors but not of the guide.  All righty! 

These are small, maybe silly examples of the heated complexity of life these days.  For others, schooling the kids is bedlam; work is crazy complicated and trying to plan for anything is out of the question – and oh there is the constant anxiety of getting caught by Covid!

But like the grackle we can find relief.  David wrote this in Psalm 36. 

“How precious is your loyal love, O God! The human race finds shelter under your wings.  They are filled with food from your house, and you allow them to drink from the river of your delicacies.”  Psalm 36:7-8  NET Bible®

Isn’t that an amazing encouragement?  Life may be chaotic, but His love for us is steady and He is deeply loyal to His children.  His is a precious love.  He stands over us like a great bird (or an SUV) providing shelter from the heat. 

He also provides refreshingly sweet water as from a river (or a condensation tube) 

It may be intolerably hot everywhere else, but it can be quite comfortable as we shelter in Him.

How do we do this?  Start each day with a prayer.  “Father, I know I will be tested today.  Please help me meet every challenge with courage and patience.  Help me to remember that the people who seem to stand in my way, are trying their best to protect me.” 

And in the paraphrased words of Jesus, “Consider the grackles.”  Look for God’s creative provision as you face the heat.  It will be there.