The Essence of Summer
Summer reminds us to enjoy life, moment by moment, as we center our attention on God.
Categories: Putting God First, Summer
There is nothing like summer to inspire us to get our priorities in order—namely, to put God first and to simmer down the rest of "life." Summer reminds us to enjoy life, moment by moment. The longer days and warmer weather are terrific incentives to loosen the holds that tie us to our daily routines and obligations. In fact, the longer days and warmer weather give us time and space to breathe much more slowly and deeply – to absorb the world around us in more vivid color and detail – and in doing so, to gain welcome insight and refreshment, even to reboot. Summer invites us to kick back, ratchet down, step away for a week, a day, or just an hour at a time from the racetrack of our usual "normal" life.
Why can summer refresh us so readily? Because it centers our attention on God. It reminds us of a powerful point Jesus makes in his Sermon on the Mount:
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? …for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. (Matthew 6:27-29, 31-34)
It's a great exercise to think about the metaphor of the lilies in relation to our lives.
With one sweeping statement of spiritual truth, Jesus sets us up for a life of true wealth: knowing God, feeling His ever-present love, and following His guidance, which can't help but include all that we need. "…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." All shall be added AFTER we seek God (read: find out what God IS) and a right (read: solid and secure in our hearts) relationship with Him. Through the seeking process, we discern more and more clearly that God is the source of our identity and our lives – is the provider and the caregiver, the protector and the guide each and every day throughout our lives.
So much of what this season offers helps us see more clearly what really matters. One day soon, gather your family around the fire pit or the picnic table or on the front stoop, and jot down ideas that each family member thinks of as classic summertime activities. Below are ones that my family has come up with:
- spending time with family and friends,
- being outside in the sunshine (or the rain!),
- lying in the grass to watch the night sky and feeling swallowed up in infinity,
- smelling summer rain
- feeling and hearing thunder
- watching lightning crack the sky,
- hearing birds sing, cicadas chirp, frogs croak,
- seeing fireflies,
- feeling sand or grass between your toes,
- smelling flowers and barbecues in the air,
- watching wind play across water,
- licking a melting ice cream cone,
- bike riding, skateboarding, rollerblading, playing tennis and soccer and golf, sailing and swimming,
- wearing the fewest possible clothes and shoes
- letting your thoughts roam in any direction without someone telling you, "Stop, pay attention, get to work, do something constructive, stop wasting time!"
Talking together will generate an inspired list that radically differs from the lists we usually make of all the things we have to get done. This list focuses on what we choose to do for the sake of pure joy—of refreshing the soul.
Summer and all the good therein was established and is perpetually sustained by God: The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter (Psalm 74:16-17). We have the right to claim the utter joy and delight of summer as a precious part of our lives—and to enjoy it in all its glory. Happy days to you and your family!