Posted: 6/2/17 at 9:05am. Column by Ed Jordan.
Summer is just around the corner, and all across America people are getting ready to enjoy it. The signs of preparation for summer come in many shapes and sizes. For some it means digging out that old pair of sunglasses or getting the coolers ready for summer outings.
For others it is making sure their dirt bikes are in good condition to hit the mountain trails. Campers are being un-winterized, and boats are being prepared for regular summer deployment. Fishing gear is being repaired and prepared. People begin to make plans and reservations for their favorite vacation destinations, while the kids are mainly thinking of the lazy days of summer with no school. Many people are pulling out their swimsuits to see if they still fit after a winter of hibernation.
What are the signs of summer’s arrival for you, which make you antsy for summer to arrive? In our area, the beaches are filling up with sunbathers while the shallow waters are filling up with boats anchored offshore.
The bay’s horizons are becoming dotted with the white or colorful wind-furled sails of sailboats. The tomato plants in the garden are beginning to get large enough to blossom and are growing tiny fruits, making us want summer to hurry up.
For most of us, summer is all about our families, or perhaps ourselves. When we think of vacations, we usually just think of getting outside, enjoying nature, pampering and indulging ourselves, and escaping the routines of work and home. It’s great to spend time with family and friends, seeing new things and going to new places. We all need a break now and then.
We love summer for all the recreation is provides. By this I mean recreation in the modern sense and definition of the word, e.g. excursions, distractions, and fun.
But recreation shouldn’t keep us from “re-creation,” from spending time with God to experience him re-creating our lives. If our prime goal for summer is centered around self, then we miss out on the things that God might want to re-create in us, like slowing down a bit to notice him, or re-creating our sense of fulfillment as we give of ourselves to help or serve others.
After all, if all we think about is enjoying ourselves, then it is hard to find time to enjoy God.
Typically our summer plans rarely encompass what God might want us to do during the season. When a family can take a vacation revolving around a mission trip, for example, the rewards of that are much greater than just taking another fun trip. When you take time to serve in your church in a major endeavor like Vacation Bible School, summer fun takes on a whole new meaning because there could be eternal consequences involved as well as having fun.
Recreation can become re-creation, when we allow God to take his rightful place in our summer plans.
When my wife and I worked for a large international Christian organization, every summer brought a week-long stay at some retreat area where we met with other missionaries and had some excursions and fun times. Our kids got to be with other English-speaking kids for friendship, spiritual growth, and fun. The last two places I served had policies, due to the high stress of ministry, requiring the missionary/minister to take a month’s vacation annually. We would rarely take that much time, but the intention was to provide time for renewal and re-creation.
We all need vacations, and we all feel the signs of physical or mental burnout when they occur. But are we as sensitive to the spiritual side of our lives?
In Matthew 24:32–33 (The Message), Jesus said: “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door.”
What are the signs in our lives that indicate that we need to spend more time with God? What are the signs that pop up in our lives as a warning that we have been neglecting God?
Maybe it’s time not just for some recreation, but some re-creation too!