For most of us summer means less structure. Less commitment. Less hurry. Less stress.
But it can also mean less connection with God and his people.
After teaching Bible study for years, I’ve learned I can pretty much count on hearing the same phrase every fall: “It’s good to be back! I haven’t read my Bible in….hmmm…gosh, I guess it’s been months.”
Vacations, kids’ activities and the lure of the beach (I live in southern California!) means church attendance may suffer, too. These things can leave us refreshed physically but starved spiritually.
But what if you could recharge yourself spiritually as well as physically this summer? What if you could reset yourself emotionally, too?
Less commitment doesn’t have to mean less connection. In fact, it can mean more! Here are my top three suggestions for staying connected to God and his people during the summer:
- Commit to leisurely read your Bible.
If you’re like most people, you don’t equate Bible reading with leisure reading. Reading for fun is more often associated with works written by Nicholas Sparks than the Apostle Paul. I get it. I love a good summer read as much as the next gal (in fact, I’d welcome suggestions in the comment section!) But maybe we’ve looked at reading God’s Word the wrong way; a “have-to” rather than a “get-to”.
What if we tweaked our perspective just a smidge?
Summertime Bible reading allows us the freedom to read what we want at a pace that works best for us. One chapter a day? That’s cool. One Psalm a day? Cool. The entire New Testament this summer? That’s cool, too.
Whatever you decide to read, open your Bible and read something. Read unhurried. Savor the experience. Enjoy a great cup of coffee or your favorite cold drink. Read by the pool or under an umbrella at the beach. Read on a park bench while the kids play. Read at a coffee shop or at lunch time. Read in the evening before bed.
Here’s what I read in my quiet time Bible reading this morning:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.”
Green pastures? Sounds like the park. Quiet waters? Seems like the beach or pool. A refreshed soul? Hmmm…sounds a whole lot like something that could happen in the summertime, doesn’t it?
You gotta love it.
2. Go to church.
Hold on. Don’t stop reading. Seriously. You need to hear what I’m about to say. Heck, I need to hear what I’m about to say.
This summer make a commitment to attend church. Why? Because you need it. How do I know? Because I need it, too.
Our enemy knows we need it, as well. Which is why he’ll throw anything and everything in our path to prevent us from getting there: exhaustion, laziness, bad attitudes, family squabbles, sickness, tardiness, other more “appealing” opportunities, kids’ sports, guilt, apathy. You name it, the devil can dish it out.
When my kids were younger we were never, ever late for school, but we were always late for church. For some reason (hmmm…) we just couldn’t get it together to leave on time. Now that they are older, the devil works on me. In fact, I’ve noticed a pattern lately as I dress for church–a thought, a memory, a worry, a concern–begins to eat away at my inner peace. There have been mornings I’ve had to will myself to go to church because honestly, I didn’t want to.
And I’m the pastor’s wife!
In moments like these, my “will-to” needs to win the war over my “want-to”.
Our enemy knows our spiritual commitment, our emotional refreshment, and our psychological resilience gets rebooted through the power and presence of Christ and His community. The worship refocuses us. The prayer reinvigorates us. The Word refuels us. The people restore us. The experience reminds us of who God is, who we are, and what this life is all about.
We need this. Our souls need this. Our kids need this, too.
Our enemy doesn’t want us to get what we need to stay connected to Christ, which is why he’ll try anything to get us off course. He knows something else, too.
When we disassociate with the people of God we inevitably disassociate with the person of God.
Oh, maybe not at first. But over time, it happens.
Other things seep in and become priorities, and before we know it, our relationship with God has become a distant second. Or third. Or forty-third.
3. Look for an opportunity to serve
You know those extra summertime minutes you have? Use them to relax and unwind, but also use them to bless someone else. Nothing keeps us connected to God like serving people in Jesus’ name.
Frankly, sometimes we need to put ourselves in a position to need Jesus. We need to stretch ourselves beyond ourselves. If I can do everything in my life without giving Jesus a thought, something is terribly wrong.
It’s easy to live as if Jesus is a nice addition to our life rather than the sustaining force behind it.
On Friday JP and I took dinner to our dear friends, Jim and Christy. At a young-ish age, Jim is recovering from open heart surgery. Jim’s total commitment to Christ inspired me. Jim used his extended hospital stay to share the love of Christ with kindness and compassion to those who served him. If there was ever a time when someone had an excuse not to serve others, having open heart surgery is it!
Jim’s open heart surgery displayed his open heart attitude.
An open heart attitude–that’s what I want, too! Don’t you?
As we prepared to leave, Jim made a remark I’ve thought about several times since: “I live and breathe because of Jesus. When Jesus stops giving me breath, I’ll stop living my life.”
Jesus isn’t the addition. Jesus is the foundation. It only makes sense to live accordingly.
So there you have it…three simple ways to keep your spiritual mojo and stay connected to Christ this summer.
This is going to be your best summer yet!
How do you stay connected to God and his people during the summer? I’d love to know!