The signs are all around us: the sound of kids playing outdoors, the smells of backyard grilling, the sight of shirts and sandals instead of long pants and boots. Summer is coming!
And for many of us, summer can’t come too soon, because it’s a time when we slow down. We sleep later on Saturdays because our kids' sports are over. We feel slightly less pressure at work and more time to spend with people. We take a couple weeks off for vacation. This is a time we need to help us recharge our batteries.
As you are planning the next few months, I encourage you to pursue a summer that is truly rejuvenating. Let this time be a gift from God that draws you nearer to Christ, rather than a time in which a departure from spiritual habits weakens your soul.
I’m challenged by something John Piper wrote a number of years ago in one of his devotionals:
"Jesus Christ is refreshing. Flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched. At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer and neglect the Word. But then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit. Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel."
The Psalmist writes, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul thirsts for God.” Jesus tells us that our souls rest when we come to him. The space that the relaxed schedule of summer offers to us invites us to experience that thirst-quenching rest more fully.
In my experience, this will only happen if we are intentional, if we set goals. Here are just four examples of the kind of goals you might set for yourself this summer so that you can be truly refreshed.
- Summer is a great time for reading! You can use your vacation time to read a spiritually nourishing and challenging book. Some examples of books I’ve recently read that I’d recommend: Humble Roots, by Hannah Anderson; Rejoicing in Lament by Todd Billings, and Making Sense of God by Tim Keller. I’m happy to give other recommendations if you’d like them!
- Use your time away from home to visit other churches. You might be away from Trinity on a Sunday or two, but wherever you go, you’re still likely near Christ’s church. Take advantage of that by visiting a local, gospel-proclaiming church. It can be a real encouragement!
- Take prayer-walks. Many of us enjoy the weather by taking walks. Often these are accompanied by listening to music or podcasts. But a solitary walk outdoors can also be a great time to converse with God.
- Sanctify your enjoyment with thanksgiving. Every good thing we enjoy this summer is a gift of God. When we discipline ourselves to give thanks regularly, we experience the delights of this world, not as distractions from God, but as arrows that point us to him. If you take time out every evening to thank God for what you have experienced that day, it can be transformative.
Again, these are only a few suggestions: you might have much better ones that suits your own situation. May God use the coming months to nourish our souls in Christ!