How would you describe summer? For educators, summer is special…very special! As I reflect back on my summers “off” (you know why I am putting that word in quotations), I find the activities in which I participated varied depending on my season of life. Early in my career, summers were filled with part-time jobs and college classes. We managed to squeeze in a few mini-vacations, but these usually included visiting relatives because it was cheap! After we started a family, the mini-vacations stayed the same (still no money), but the time was spent with our children and tackling the tasks that had been put off during the year (e.g., closet cleaning, painting, yard work). Walmart definitely profited from my summer “to-do” lists.
Once I moved into administration, summer was significantly shorter, but it was still a break from the grind of the school year. Although I wasn’t official working, I often found myself intermittently planning for the school year while trying to enjoy all the fun that comes with summer.
Summer felt like freedom. I was no longer controlled by a bell schedule or meetings. Summer was a time to exhale, rest, and rejuvenate. However, I often found that I ended the summer just as exhausted as when I started! It was just a different kind of exhaustion.
One advantage of being my age is hindsight. If given the chance, this is what I would say to my younger self.
“Jackie, fill your spiritual bucket. Spend more time reading your Bible, meditating on God’s word, listening to the Holy Spirit, and praying. Choose a good book by a Christian author and read! Journal about what God is speaking to you through His word. Grow spiritually!”
I wished I had started this practice early in my career, but I didn’t. I went to church regularly and did all the good Christian “stuff”, but I was not spiritually disciplined. It is hard to admit, but it is true. I found it difficult to carve out time during a busy school year for spiritual disciplines, and when summer came, nothing changed. It wasn’t until I attended a Bible study called “Experiencing God” that I realized how much I was missing. It still took several years for me to establish a spiritual routine of Bible study and prayer, and to this day I am not perfect. I still have a long way to go, but for now, here are a few things I’ve learned.
· It is a waste of time to worry and to be frustrated with life’s daily struggles. God knows our situation. He hears our prayers. He answers our prayers (in His time). God always knows what is best for us. Period. How do I know? I believe God’s Word.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked Him. I John 5:14-15
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
· God created us to be in relationship with Him. He loves us unconditionally. Relationships are not one-sided. Relationships take time. Relationships take effort. God’s presence in our lives is a reflection of us not Him. We carve out time for what is important to us. An authentic, growing relationship with Christ changes us. How do I know? I believe God’s Word.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love for which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
But we all, with unveiled faces beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore, be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the word of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:5-58
· God’s Word provides guidance for every need, every decision, and every struggle. We just have to read it, know it, believe it, and seek wisdom through the work of the Holy Spirit. How do I know? I believe God’s Word.
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:104
“But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all I that I said to you.” John 14:26
All scripture is inspired by God (God breathed) and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teachers us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I know I have shared many verses this week, but I could share more! I have so much to learn. I am still growing, and I still need to ask for forgiveness on a daily basis! However, the more time I spend in God’s Word—meditating and praying—the stronger my faith becomes. I feel myself changing.
Here is my challenge to you. As you say hello to summer, pledge to strengthen your walk with the Lord by establishing the spiritual routines of prayer and Bible study. Carve out time to really strengthen your relationship with the God that loves you so. God wants you to have peace, joy, love, and purpose in your life. Seek Him this summer like never before.
If you already have a good routine in place, where is God asking you to grow?
Commit to carrying these special disciplines into the next school year. You may have to adjust your schedule a bit, but make spending time alone with the Lord a priority. It will change you.
Next Week’s Blog: Resources and suggestions for Bible study and prayer