With the onset of summer, we often land in the mindset of slowing things down and getting out of the busy patterns of the “school year” (even if you haven’t been a student, parent or grandparent of a student in years, our minds often frame time in this way!) There are a lot of good things about summer- it often affords extra leisure time, travel, chances to be with family and friends that may or may not be in the region, etc. Trust me, even though the life of the church never fully slows down, I even relish the different patterns that emerge during the summer months- less meetings, less evening commitments…did I mention less meetings? Though the intense heat and humidity of late summer can do me in, it is a great time to catch a breath of fresh air, especially when you are able to be outside! But in the midst of this season, I have also noticed it is the easiest time to be apathetic about many things as well. It can be easy to kick life, even our faith, into neutral and cruise through the summer. Of course this does not only happen during the summer.
There are many times when our faith seems to take a back seat to other “things” in life. As I have joked once before, I may be able to take a vacation away from being a pastor, but even when I am away I am still a Christian. These may seem like tough words, but this is one of the toughest parts of being a follower of Jesus. There is not a moment of our lives that we are not held accountable for our actions before God. Too often we compartmentalize our faith into Sunday morning, Sunday school, personal devotions, private prayer, etc.
Our faith cannot be cut into these small chunks. We are called to witness to Christ at every possible moment. In Mark 13:32-37 Jesus talks about the necessity for watchfulness regarding the return of the Son of Man; in other words, he’s referring to the second coming of the Messiah. We could sit on our front porches constantly looking for the sign of His return, but that is not quite what I believe Jesus meant. The point is we never know who is watching when, and can never give up our post at the entrance to new life found only in Christ. At any moment, whether in the grocery store, at a local restaurant, at home, or even on vacation, someone could be observing your life and receiving a good or bad impression of Jesus.
My encouragement for the rest of the summer months is to use the “downtime” to reflect upon and reevaluate where you are in your relationship with God. For many, it may be doing well but could use a little tune-up. For others a full scale recommitment or overhaul might be in order. No matter where you “think” you might be, take it seriously. One of the biggest faults that gets us into trouble with God is pride — thinking we know what needs to happen without constantly checking in with the Lord.
Don’t misunderstand me: rest and downtime are all good things. The importance of a true Sabbath is a subject I have written on previously. But, be sure to give yourself a chance to catch up with God. The Holy Spirit is always whispering and nudging us throughout life, but we are often moving too fast to take much notice! My prayer is that we can use these summer months for reflection, preparing us for meaningful growth as we do more things together in the fall and beyond. Listen for the still small voice. God is speaking. Take a minute (or many minutes) to hear Him out!