Ah summer, a delightfully warm, yet dry season. It can also be a spiritually dry season.
Exams are over and most of my student friends have left for home. No more commiserating with them about piled-up assignments. No more prayer sessions with other students regarding said assignments–and other important realities in our world. That’s not to mention that I miss the sweet times of digging into the Bible with my student friends and applying it to our (not-as-sweet) driven, academic lives.
Nope, all that is gone.
Are you a casualty of change?
Needless to say, transitioning into summer can be difficult.
Probably the most difficult part is making the adjustment to a change in routine. As my daily routine changes sometimes I can end up dropping beneficial habits, like reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. This seems to happen when I let the changes inherent in this season take hold of my attention. Instead of focusing on the change in my life, I need to focus on what is continually real, especially my relationship with the God of the universe through my friend and saviour: Jesus Christ.
Instead of focusing on relationship, so often I end up focusing on tasks and agenda items. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but I find that I can fall into the trap of narrowly focusing my life on good, but not ultimate, realities. I suppose sometimes my experience is analogous to the “tyranny of the urgent”.
I’m so scared that I am not being productive with my new-found summer time that I spin my wheels doing “stuff” and neglecting the important task of reflection, of being still and knowing God (Psalm 46:10). I can be so much like Martha who was so busy preparing a meal for Jesus that she forgot to spend time with Jesus (Luke 10:38-42).
Get grounded in the daily
Amidst transitioning into summer, this is what I need to keep me grounded: a habit of talking to God and hearing from him. For my academic mind that primarily involves me delving deep into a particular passage in the Bible, thinking thoughts back to God and hearing from him as I engage with his Word.
This summer, my relational time with God has manifested itself in blitzing through chapters of the Bible and marvelling at the way God works in individual lives to make broad historical changes for the sake of drawing more and more people into relationship with him.
I have also discovered stories in the Bible that I never knew about–especially in the book of Numbers, a book that I dismissed due to its voluminous amounts of listed names, census figures and regulations. Yet, in Numbers 27:1-11 I discovered a neat little story where God gives land as an inheritance to the female descendants of Zelophehad. This confirmed to me that God has never been a misogynistic God but rather one who loves all of humanity and the world he created.
The problem with summer hermit crabs
God is relational and so am I but so often summer means a loss of community, with few student friends to hang out with and talk about God with. Yet, for me there is a light shining in this dark void of community: my local church.
I find it refreshing to get a bigger perspective on life through engaging with people who are not students–especially through the life-on-life experience found in small-group Bible studies. In the summer, a local church connection provides some good continuity for much-needed spiritual togetherness with other Christians. However, often these small-group Bible study communities also end before June, or at least July. Then comes, for me at least, the hard work of keeping up engagement in spiritual community with others.
Although it hasn’t been easy for me, it has been rewarding and refreshing to have friends and new acquaintances over for dinner this summer, especially when those times have led to honest sharing about spiritual joys and struggles, culminating in a time of shared prayer.
How wonderful it is to connect with brothers and sisters in the family of God everywhere, even beyond the walls of academia. When I’m travelling this summer, it will be a comfort to know that I can connect with others who share the same love of Jesus.
Oh, it can be rich!
I hope you too, my friend, may take the time to invest in staying connected in spiritual community and growing even closer in relationship to God, whether you spend more time reading the Bible, praying, reflecting on him or singing to him.
Whatever you do, remember to listen and be amazed at how God will guide you in his love this summer through his Word. I am looking forward to seeing you on campus this September and hearing all about it!
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