Summer is the season when our routines and schedules may go a little haywire! The warmer weather lures us outdoors. The longer evenings with more daylight keep us awake and alert a little later each day. The absence of a schedule based on school hours or extracurricular activities paves the way for more flexibility away from the routine. Often, church services and Bible studies are rescheduled to fit the summer calendar. And many times, because of the different schedules (or lack of one), our spiritual disciplines are disrupted or put aside.
As you hit the middle of summer, what do you need to adjust to reset your spiritual development? Here are a few ideas to help you focus on your spiritual growth and to help you thrive in the summer.
- Take advantage of the outdoors and good weather. Consider reading your Bible and spending time in prayer or journaling while you are outside. You may want to sit on your porch, your apartment balcony, or at a local park with your Bible, a journal, and pen in hand. Taking time to breathe in the fresh air along with your devotional or Bible reading plan may be just what you need to sense God’s presence and reset your time with Him. Listen for the birds, look at the sway of the trees in the wind, and watch the movements of the insects or animals who make their home outdoors. “Consider the birds of the sky … Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow …” (Matt. 6:26,28). Trust in God’s sovereignty as you take in and enjoy the outdoors. It is always good to have a place that is comfortable where you can avoid interruptions as you spend time in God’s Word and prayer. And being outside may be the fresh start needed if you find yourself becoming spiritually stagnant this summer. If being still is a struggle, you may decide to prayer walk and seek the Lord on behalf of your neighbors. The point is to take advantage of the outdoors, good weather, and God’s creation.
- Admire God’s creation day or night. “When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?” (Ps. 8:3-4). Summer is the perfect time to grab a blanket, rest your body, and look up at the evening sky—the clouds, the moon, and the stars all reveal God’s handiwork. Take some time to watch the fireflies in the evening or the butterflies by day. Observe the intricacies of the trees, the flowers, or a blade of grass. Breathe deep and smell the flowers or the freshly cut grass. Feel the velvety texture of the flower’s petals between your fingers or the grass between your toes. If you have a garden or know someone who does, pause, look, and reflect on how God provides a variety of foods and makes each plant unique. Use your senses to see the plants, smell their fragrances, touch their foliage, and if they are ripe, taste their goodness. Remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (Jas. 1:17). He created all this goodness from the beginning and continues to provide for us through His creation. God also instructed us to rest in His creation from the very beginning.
- Vacation and rest. The apostles saw and heard a lot as they walked alongside Jesus. After hearing about the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus gathered the apostles and said, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while” (Mark 6:31). Ministry was challenging for them just as it is for us today. We can sometimes forget that vacation and rest are good gifts from God. We should not feel guilty about resting but be grateful. Vacations often provide the perfect opportunity for us to focus on the many ways we are grateful to God. Take time to pray and thank God for vacation and rest each morning. Instead of trying to stick to a routine on your vacation with multiple verses, chapters, or more in-depth Bible study, focus on one verse each day. Allow one verse to be the focus as you go about your day and allow yourself to fully engage in your time of vacation and rest.
- Allow the music of nature to refresh and nurture your soul. Summer is full of sounds—chirping crickets, buzzing bees, splashing water, and wind through the trees. Wherever you spend your time this summer, take moments to listen to the sounds of God’s creation moving around you. Listen to the music of nature, and let the beautiful melodies remind you of God’s nearness. In Psalm 17, David prayed to God for protection from his enemies. In verse 8 he said, “Protect me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Think about that verse. Think about how close you need to be to someone to see your reflection in his pupil—face-to-face—where you can feel his breath upon your face. Allow God to draw you close this summer. Let Him refresh and nurture your soul.
“The life of every living thing is in his hand, as well as the breath of all humanity” (Job 12:10).
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.