By Ross Johnson, Lead Pastor, Gathering Pointe Church
It was sometime during the summer of 2001. We had just moved our family from LaCrosse, WI where I served as a youth pastor for almost five years to Sellersville, PA to begin my Master of Divinity degree at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary. I had about a month and a half of free time before my new job and classes started, so we decided to travel back to my home town of Council Bluffs, Iowa to see my parents. At that time, my father was running his small general contracting business and had several roofs to finish before the winter months began. So we went back to help him finish those roofs and make some extra money.
I had just turned 29 in June; obviously much younger than I am now…and in considerable better shape and condition (the last seventeen years haven’t been kind!). Years before, I had worked with my dad for a few years roofing so I knew what I was getting into. If you have ever done that line of work, you know it is not the easiest job in the world and while I was in pretty good shape, I wasn’t in “roofing” shape.
If my memory serves me correct, were finishing up our fourth roof in three and half weeks of work. It was getting later in the day, it was hot and humid with little to no breeze and I just wasn’t feeling well. I told my dad that I wasn’t feeling well and thought it might be a good idea for me to get off the roof for a while. Little did I know that when I climbed down off the ladder that day, I would no longer be able to help him finish; not just that roof, but the remaining roofs he had left.
The next thing I remember, my wife was helping me get out of my truck in front of my sister’s house. I don’t remember driving home and I had blacked out in the street with the truck still running. I have only two more memories of that day. I remember my brother in law helping me into a cold shower to help cool my core temperature and then I remember waking up in the hospital with all kinds of tubes, IV’s plugged into me and ice packs placed all over my body. I was told that when I arrived at the hospital that my core body temp had reached closed to 107 degrees. I had suffered a severe exertional heat stroke due to strenuous activity in hot weather and dehydration. It was not a good situation and quite honestly, I was pretty scared.
Since that day, I have taken the topic of hydration much more serious. Dehydration is a serious issue that can creep up on you extremely quick and have life altering ramifications. The Mayo Clinic’s website informs us that one of the causes of heat stroke is dehydration and can cause your brain or other vital organs to swell, possibly resulting in permanent damage and without prompt and adequate treatment, can lead to death.
As dangerous as physical dehydration can be…I want to close out our time in this article to discuss another type of dehydration – that of spiritual dehydration.
During the summer months it is quite natural for families to take time for travel and family vacations. It is part of life…one that we all look forward to. But as a pastor, I fear many of us take a spiritual vacation as well. It is easy in the midst of our traveling and time away to rehydrate our physical lives to neglect our spiritual lives and become spiritually dehydrated. We miss church. We miss community. We miss those quite moments in our Bible reading and prayer.
In Psalm 42:1-2, the Psalmist writes, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” The Psalmist had a deep desire to have his spiritual thirst quenched by the things of God. He was in a rough spot in this period of his life and he knew it would be easy to become spiritually dehydrated and so he sought out the life giving streams that flow from the presence of God.
During the remaining weeks of summer be sure to stay hydrated; hydrate your body and hydrate your soul. Drink plenty of water. But perhaps more important, stay connected to our Heavenly Father and drink in His presence and blessings.