Summer is the Time for Rest
The students are out of school, and summer break is in full swing! The excitement and enthusiasm I felt for summer time as a child is only surpassed by the excitement and enthusiasm I see in teachers longing for a well-deserved respite. The change of routine, the chance to read and reflect, time to tackle outdoor projects, and the occasional afternoon nap sound like a small taste of retirement.
James Dent said, “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawnmower is broken.” Rest and re-creation do not, however, happen by accident. Even then, we must be intentional. So, together let’s ask, “How’s my spiritual self resting and growing this summer?”
We all need a little summer time in our lives, especially our spiritual lives. One of the psalmists (Psalm 74) includes the summer season in a list of God’s most significant activities: “It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever flowing rivers. The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”
I confess that I am no longer a fan of winter, but I need the summertime. “Rest is not idleness,” writes John Lubbock, “and to life sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
Recreate Your Spiritual Self
I know you have much to do this summer, and one of those duties is to find some time to rest. After all, if it’s important to God, it should be important to us. But what are you doing to help re-create your spiritual self? Here are a few suggestions.
- You might try reading a book that’s considered a Christian classic, such as Pilgrim’s Progress, The Screwtape Letters, In His Steps, or Dark Night of the Soul. The list of possibilities is long, and our church library is waiting for you.
- You could start a journal, reflecting each day on a scripture passage and sitting quietly for a few minutes in God’s presence. What are you thinking? What are you fearing? What are you dreaming? What is God saying? Do you see a pattern emerging? Pick up a notebook, open it up, write the date and begin your summer journey. You might find that you don’t want to stop even though the summer must end.
- Choose a Spiritual Discipline that you’ve never practiced before, and see what happens over the summer. This list of possibilities is also long and well established in Christian history: fasting, meditation, simplicity, service, confession, solitude, celebration. You can always begin with Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline (also in our church library).
- Baptists have always prided themselves on being “people of the book.” Another possibility is to focus on a book of the Bible this summer that you’ve never really studied before. Read through the book slowly, taking notes and writing down your questions. A serious commentary will guide you with your questions and suggest new questions and ways of interpreting the text you’ve never considered before.
“It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter” (Psalm 74:17). What a great time of the year!