By Jennifer Hein
Summer bucket list!
Summer reading list!
Vacation and staycation!
Meaningful time with friends, family, neighbors!
Household projects and yardwork!
Gardening and landscaping!
Campfires, s’mores, fireworks!
Barbecues with friends!
Everywhere I turn lately, these phrases are in play. Whether in print, on social media, or simply in conversation, the focus on making the most of summer is a thread that weaves through the fabric of our lives. In fact, for those of us in the northern states, these phrases can even carry a sense of urgency.
Urgency…to enjoy every minute, to soak in the sunshine of longer days, to enjoy Creation to it’s fullest while it’s warm enough to be outside for long stretches of each day. For some, that sense of urgency crosses a line to downright anxiety. After all, everywhere we turn someone is showing us how to be better, smarter, happier, more fun, more adventurous, more….well, you get the idea.
For some, that sense of urgency crosses a line to downright anxiety.
And here we find ourselves, at the tipping point of summer. It’s mid-July, and suddenly I realize that the first half of summer has flown by! What of all that has not yet been accomplished? Are you tempted toward fretfulness over all the meaningful interactions that have not yet happened, fear of whether the kids are having the most magical summer ever, overwhelmed by the list of household projects that need done…well, you get the idea again.
Never in the Gospels do we see Jesus rushing around, fretful about all that wasn’t getting accomplished, worried over whether everyone was having enough fun, or despairing about running out of time for the work the Father had laid before him. Jesus was plenty busy at times, while at other times he rested. But he was never trapped and worrisome about perceived “failures,” paralyzed to use each day intentionally because He didn’t know the outcome in the way that Satan so often traps us.
So, dear reader, pause with me just a moment. Take a deep breath, maybe two or three if you’ve had a tense day. Close your eyes and just sit for a few breaths, quieting your mind. (No one is watching.) Now that you’re a bit more relaxed, close your eyes and ask your loving Heavenly Father, with a very simple sentence, to guide your thoughts about the rest of your summer.
God has different plans for how each of us will use our time in the coming weeks, but one thing is certain: He has a desire to walk closely with each of us in relationship and use our time for his glory and purpose. Welcome Him into your planning process as you look at the last weeks of summer. Invite God’s input and ideas for how He intends to use your time to be part of the redemptive work that He is doing in the world around you.
For some that will look like activity: volunteering for a purpose that is meaningful to you, hosting a gathering with your neighbors and just getting to know each other, taking a trip that gets you out of the rat race and allows some time to re-energize for the work to come, and more.
For others, the action plan for the remainder of your summer will look more passive: making a few minutes of daily prayer time with your family a priority again, looking at the calendar and scheduling places of margin in your schedule so you don’t feel trapped by how busy you are, lingering over a meal with people you love (or really want to know better), and more. There is no right or wrong answer.
He has a desire to walk closely with each of us in relationship and use our time for his glory and purpose. Welcome Him into your planning process as you look at the last weeks of summer.
For some, God may invite you to shake off your fear or laziness a bit and join Him in doing something…maybe even outside your comfort zone. For others, God may convict your heart that you’ve allowed your life to be dictated by others’ expectations or your schedule to get overwhelming, and it’s time to clear your calendar a bit and allow some time for real relationship building.
Here’s what I know for sure: I don’t need to know. Having all the answers, all the details and knowing the outcome isn’t the point, just as being able to confess my faith perfectly, in full understanding of the mysteries of God, isn’t required to start talking about Jesus with a friend.
God did not require all of this for me to start following Jesus. Nor did he require it of my children. Just like the first disciples invited by Jesus to follow, His grace is the only thing we need to walk into these last days of summer with Him. When we walk in this grace, those closest to us are also seeing what God does with this. Walking in His grace, the Holy Spirit helps us to be obedient to God’s voice, even when the noise around us tries to distract.
If you find yourself in a place of regret about the first half of summer, God invites you to start fresh in the grace of Jesus, to follow Jesus on His redemptive mission to save the world, and to consider how He wants us to fill our days.
So hear this good news: the rest of summer stretches before you and Jesus is there to walk into it with you! Today is not for regret, fear, or worry about cramming it all in so that we have the “perfect summer.” What’s on God’s bucket list for the rest of your summer? It might be the highlight of your Facebook feed, or perhaps it is so simple few will notice. Whatever it is, walking in Jesus’ grace is certain to leave you looking back with satisfaction when summer is over!
What’s on God’s bucket list for the rest of your summer?
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established… The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16: 3, 9
Check out more from our Summer Discipleship blog series.