I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe that summer is now officially over – and we know this because school is back in session! – Where does the time go?! . . .And, make no mistake, friends, time continues to march on. I think what’s important in this life is what we do with the time we have been given. . . So, how did you spend you summertime? Was it eventful? Noteworthy? Prosperous? Educational? Relationship-enhancing? A time of spiritual and emotional growth? – However you spent your summertime, I pray it was worth what it cost you. Because it cost you one of the most valuable resources we have been given – a resource we can never get back – namely, time!
Personally, I don’t like summer. Now, it’s not because I don’t appreciate a time to slow down and take a break from the routine of daily life. It’s just that I am one of those strange individuals who thrives on routine, and stepping out of routine somehow disorients me. In truth, I have no choice about any of this. Life in our 21st-century American culture is set up in such a way that there are generally nine months of work and/or school and three months of summer for rest and relaxation, with a few extra weeks around the holidays. . .And no one asked me if I liked it or not. So, I am obligated to get in-step with the rest of the world.
. . .And now it’s over! People are back from their vacations and ‘normal’ routines are once again resumed. I love it! I can find people at their work places or on their school schedules Monday through Friday! I can now count on things going pretty much along in an orderly fashion most of the time.
But, I have to ask myself; Is this God’s plan for His people? Did Jesus stick to a routine in His daily life – or was He open and available to whatever needed His attention? If I’m honest with myself, I must admit that the latter is true. It is God’s plan that we would rest and renew – as we read in Scripture – as He Himself rested from His labors on the seventh day of His Creation story.
God speaks to us of the importance of rest in may places of the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, we are given a description of the contrast between Paul’s life of suffering in the present evil of the age around him (his outer self) and the moral and spiritual
transformation of his life into the image of God (his inner self), it says, “. . .So we do not lose
heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” This becomes an effective affirmation of how God made us as human beings that need rest, renewal and refreshment from the struggles of this life, which as it turns out, is a good argument for the practice of stepping away from the grind of our daily routines. We actually honor God when we sieze the opportunity to be renewed in strength, energy and passion for being prepared, equipped and ready for the Kingdom work that God sets before us.
The upcoming season of the year – the fall and winter months– is our time to turn our efforts and attention to noticing where God is at work, and then joining Him in that work. It is a time, now that we are rested and renewed, to take stock, to make plans, to watch, to listen and prepare for God’s call to us – and to make the decision to respond in obedience to His call.
It is a rhythm that seems to work pretty well for most of us; work, then rest. So, as we enter the busy time of returning to our routines of the discipline of work and school, it is our prayer that you will remember to take the short breaks that this season allows – that you will remember to keep a “Sabboth” day of stepping away from your disciplined life – and allow God to renew your inner self day by day.
We pray that the ministry of self-care will become a part of your daily routine. Take the safety announcement we hear as we taxi down the runway before take-off: After telling us about all the important things we need to know, including the oxygen mask overhead, they say that if the cabin pressure changes, we are to, “Put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” It’s a good metaphor for self-care, an essential part of being equipped and ready!
Blessings and joy as we move to a new season of living into the Kingdom work of service, observing where God is at work – and then enthusiastically joining Him there!