Summertime is almost upon us here in Spokane and that means it is time to fill up your schedules with all those sun-filled activities and vacations you were dreaming about while shoveling your driveways. After experiencing a winter and a “spring” here in Spokane I too am ready for warmer weather and all that it brings. However, summer can potentially be a time of great waste and missed opportunities. This article is aimed at trying to give you some thoughts on how to be intentional this summer and use it for all its worth.
We spend a lot of time planning and budgeting for all of the trips we want to take and experiences we want to pursue. Have you taken any time to plan where you and your family are headed spiritually? In other words, what are some spiritual goals that the extra flexibility and time off will allow you to pursue? What are some specific spiritual goals that you have for your family? How would you like to see your son or daughter grow in maturity? How does your marriage need to grow? Most of us fail to realize that spiritual growth takes planning. You will never accidentally stumble into spiritual maturity. Wouldn’t it be great to look back in three months and see some definable growth in a particular area of life and understanding? This summer is the perfect opportunity to go hard after spiritual growth and transformation for you and your family.
As I was thinking the other day about time that I will be able to spend with my children this summer I had this startling thought: I only have 18 summers with each of my children and over half of those are gone with two of my kids. When you think about it that way you realize your opportunity to shape and impact your children is slipping away. How many summers do you have left with your kids?
Many times people live for the opportunity to get away from the regular schedules of life so they can do all the things they want to do or even simply just relax. There is a danger in this way of thinking. In our minds, life slowly becomes about getting away from work or the “unfun” activities of life to do what we really enjoy.
We start living for the weekend or the summer vacation. We become very protective of our “deserved” me time. While it is important to take a break and rest from time to time it is important to remember what rest is all about. While the practice of rest in scripture had some practical benefits it is primarily a spiritual activity. It is all about acknowledging God’s good sovereignty and control over our lives. Let me put it this way, we get away from working to remember why and for whom we are working. Rest then is all about the one to whom everything belongs. It is not about us at all.
How does your time away reflect this reality? Does it reflect a selfish, entitled attitude? We should be building into our time away some more intense and purposeful time to meditate upon God’s Word and behold His glory. This is true rest.
It has been a new experience for me to see just how important summer is to people that have precious little of it. The window is shorter than for the majority of the rest of the country and that means we have got to get more in with less time. Be careful not to overfill your schedules in an effort to get in all the stuff you have been wanting to do. Instead, think about investing in those things that are actually important and focus primarily on those things. Reject the pressure either internally or externally to do everything or be everywhere. Own your schedule instead of it owning you. Here are some non-negotiables that need to be on your radar as you plan this summer:
First, do not neglect the assembly—Hebrews 10:25. Some of our driest times and most dangerous times spiritually come when we have more time on our hands. We need the body every week and the summer is no different—in fact it might be even more urgent for you.
Second, be an evangelist. Summer will offer more opportunity to have neighbors over and feast on some good food in the delightful weather. It will also offer several outdoor activities with large crowds of people as well as community activities like farmer’s markets and such. Use these to tell people about the King that deserves their allegiance. How sad is it for us to hang out with people and even live next to them without pointing them to their rightful King and only true hope?
Third, your marriage needs real work. Plan a time to get away with just your spouse and have some purposeful conversations. Plan time to listen and pray and read together. Even plan some time to talk about the next year and some of the challenges ahead for the family and for the kids. You won’t have time when the schedule kicks back in full force.
Last, invest some serious time in your kids. Enjoy them. Love them. Have fun with them—this is such an essential part of parenting. Also, give them challenges in their time off. Memorize scripture together. Teach them how to read the Bible—they don’t just pick that up you know. Read good books together and talk about them. Pray together for the elders and missionaries of our church. Take the flexible schedule and plan little surprise getaways with each kid, etc. So many opportunities during the summer to make up for lost time with your kids.
After these things, how much more time do you have to spend? Isn’t it interesting how we spend so much time on the things that are not important. Don’t reach another Labor Day and look back to bemoan all of the wasted time. Don’t float through your summer! Use your summer for the glory of your maker and for the growth of your family.