As we enter into what can euphemistically be described as the British summer, we will soon start to see the city beginning to slow down. Students are already finishing their exams and preparing to return home (we’ll miss you!). For those of us still in the city, life begins to take a slower pace. Work starts to be a bit quieter. Evenings are spent relaxing in the park with friends. And many of us will leave the city at some point for a short break. This is good news for our weary bodies!
However, not everyone is enthusiastic about long summer holidays. School teachers often speak about ‘summer brain drain’, where students spend 6 weeks relaxing in the sun and come back to school having forgotten much of what they had learnt in the previous year. I think we can get into the spiritual equivalent, where we approach periods of rest as times to physically recharge but fail to find true rest for our souls. I have noticed a tendency in myself to want to switch off from my spiritual priorities when I’m on holiday. There’s a danger that the summer becomes a time of spiritual stagnation.
Let me encourage you to approach the summer with precisely the opposite intention. We need to ask ourselves, how can we use the extra time that comes with the summer for our spiritual growth?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Don’t stop your normal spiritual routines
Somehow it feels silly to keep reading your bible and praying on holiday, particularly when you could be exploring a new city or lounging by the pool. You need to remember your soul needs this truth like a thirsty person needs water. Your surroundings may have changed, but you still need to drink in this truth and have your mind renewed each day.
2. Read some edifying Christian books
Good Christian books have been absolutely life-changing for me. There’s something really helpful about engaging with someone who’s immersed themselves in the biblical wisdom on a particular subject. If you’re wondering where to start, I’d suggest anything by Jerry Bridges (particularly Transforming Grace), Tim Keller (e.g. Counterfeit Gods) or A. W. Tozer (e.g. The Pursuit of God).
3. Take some time to reflect, pray and re-prioritise
I like to use the summer holidays to stop and reflect on my walk with God and consider my rhythms of life. Am I living in a healthy pattern of life? Am I investing in the right things? Does anything need to change? And to seek God for the coming academic year. Who has God put on my heart to invest in? How can I be prioritising his purposes?
4. Stay rooted in community
There is something about the summer that makes our city even more transient than usual. Different people go away at different times. Normal routines are discarded. I’d encourage you not to give up the consistent habit of meeting together (particularly Sundays and Life Group). We need each other. So don’t exit community over the summer months. Instead, use the extra time to invest in relationships. Have some people over. Go for coffee with someone new. Or why not take a day trip out of the city with your Life Group?