I have a confession. I haven't been in the word enough this summer. Yes, it's been busy. I have four kids. They require a lot of attention. But enough excuses.
When I'm not connecting with God regularly, stuff goes wrong. I have a shorter temper. I want to gossip and complain more. I have trouble seeing God's hand in the day to day. These things happen because I'm being disobedient. Luckily, it's not too late to turn it around. Let's be clear about something. This post as a letter to myself. If you're with me, keep reading. I hope I can encourage us. Another quick disclaimer: Each summer, my pastor, Keith Minier at Grace Fellowship, reminds us not to allow our faith to fade this time of year. If I have any clever phrases in this blog post, I'm sure I got them from Keith because he is amazing at making things memorable. So, clever phrase? Probably Keith, not me.
Here are two ways to describe this time of year:
a. Summertime! It's wonderful right? Days at the pool. Ice cream. Picnics. Days are longer. Things move more slowly. Time to kick back and relax.
b. Summertime! Packing for vacation, for the pool, for the zoo. Making three meals and 100 snacks a day. Doing things to tire out the kids so they go to sleep before midnight.
For some of us, summer feels more like choice b. than a. Maybe it's because my kids are a little older, but this is the first summer where I'm totally living in the b. category. And here's the thing; when we're super busy, our time with God tends to get brushed aside. If I'm honest, that's where I am this summer so far. There is more free time for me in the summer, but why do I feel like I'm backsliding?
I brainstormed some problems I'm facing, and came up with some solutions. Again, I'm writing these to motivate myself.
Problem #1: My school year routine is thrown off in the summer.
Suggestion: Substitute a regular school-year activity for time with God. There are things I do during the school year I'm not doing now that it's summer. Technically, that would leave a hole in my schedule, right? For me, it's driving people to activities in the evening. My kids don't do nightly activities in the summer. Because I'm not spending a bunch of time each evening taxiing my kids, I can use that time to read my Bible and pray. For some of you, it might be in the morning when you're usually getting kids ready for school. If the kids snooze a little later in the summer, make the best use of your morning. Examine your schedule for holes and use them.
Problem #2: My small group doesn't meet during the summer, so I'm not studying something in the Bible.
Suggestion: Have fun deciding what part of the Bible to study. Use this opportunity to buy a new book or choose one of the great reading plans on the Bible app. Have you ever checked out those plans? So much variety and many of them come with devotionals. AND they're free! Have you ever suggesting studying a certain topic or book of the Bible in your small group and got voted down? Now's the time to do it. Still at a loss? Check out Messy to Meaningful
by Monica Schmelter, Rhonda Rhea, and Kayley Rhea. (click on the title or image to buy it on Amazon.)
I recently read this book. It's a quick read that caused me to examine some of the junk in my life that keeps me from connecting with God. I promise you'll be blessed by it.
I've chosen to start a week-long devotional on the Bible app called, "Immersion into Colossians". Feel free to join me, or choose something else to read. Just choose something. Indecision leads to inaction. Anytime you're getting in the word, God will teach you something if you're willing to be taught.
Problem #3: I feel isolated studying alone.
Suggestion: Ask a friend to study something with you. This can be in person or you can simply touch base with them through phone calls or texts. Obviously, in person is more fun. If you both have kids, invite everyone over. The kids can play and you and your friend can talk about what God is teaching you. Chances are we're not the only ones struggling to prioritize this summer. Also, it's good for our kids to see us studying the Bible with friends.
It's silly really. We serve an amazing God who loves us more than we can comprehend. Why do we have trouble making time for Him?
In church this week we sang one of my favorite hymns, "Come Thou Fount". I was struck by these words:
"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above."
We are prone to wander in the summer. Let's pledge to say, "Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it." Let's use the summer to fall more in love with Jesus. Our "down time" may be what we need to dial up our faith. Would you be willing to take a challenge by doing three things?
1. Carve out time daily
2. Choose something to study
3. Reach out to a friend
I can't wait to hear all about what God taught you this summer. It's going to be awesome!