There are times we all look back and wish we could have done things differently. If we could only go back, rewrite it and have a different story to tell. There are the stories about the boy we shouldn’t have dated, the time we wasted, or the money we could have saved. It could have been “so much MORE.”
It was the summer after my freshmen year in college and it was one of those times. It wasn’t a terrible summer; but looking back, it was a summer of missed opportunity. It could have been “so much more.” It all started when I turned down an opportunity to go on a summer mission’s project with cru. Ok, it was for a good part of the summer, and I had plans for my break. I had plans to get a class out of the way, to make a little money, to spend time with a boyfriend and just have some free time to myself! I honestly gave no consideration to the mission’s opportunity. I quickly dismissed it, assuming I was not “spiritual” enough. Instead, if I would have made the time to ask questions or even to be open to it, I would have discovered it was designed for people like me. It would have added so much more to my summer than my meager plans.
How did the summer go?
- I got lots of sleep! I was able to sleep in each day and even sleep late, which felt really good.
- I coasted through a super easy English class with a quirky teacher. There was no challenge in it, which also felt nice (but boring).
- I didn’t see the boyfriend much since we were in different towns and I didn’t have a car. It was disappointing, and the relationship soon ended that next school year.
- I had sporadic time in God’s word and had very little Christian community with others. After growing so much the school year before, it felt dry and lonely.
- I did not make as much money as I wanted. Because I was held up at gunpoint (that is another story), my parents asked me to quit my job. What a way to end the summer!
Honestly, I don’t think the mission’s project was the only answer. Though, it would have set me up for a much more purposeful summer and for a better start for the new school year. It would have helped if I asked myself, “What would a successful summer look like?” Instead, I focused on my time and my plans!
A summer of watering
I have flowers I planted, either this year or in past years, that I hope will grow and flourish with many more blooms over the summer. My hope is that by the end of the summer, my lantana is much fuller with golden blooms. It would be really disappointing if it stopped growing, quit blooming, and began to die. It started so well! One thing I know for sure: if my flowers are not watered (for we usually have very dry times in the summer) they will not grow and will not produce blooms. Watering is essential in the summer! If I want more flowers there needs to be watering!
Let’s face it, sometimes summers can be a mixed blessing. Sometimes a summer can feel dry, discouraging or disappointing. But it doesn’t have to feel this way.
O God. You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
There are a few things that are helpful to have a summer that is “so much more.” In order that the time is not dry, we need to seek water– we need to be watered and to water.
To be watered
A few ways of being watered and on the way to having a “so much more summer”
1- Keep the word open This is obvious, but if our bible remains closed, then it is not very useful. Devotion grows from time spent together– time spent in God’s living word helps grow our devotion. Devotion grows intimacy and intimacy gives depth in our relationship with God. We feel known by God and know Him more deeply. Intimacy is pleasant, satisfying, and reminds us how parched we really are without it. As we experience time in God’s word, not as an “ought to,” but for growing our intimacy, it changes the time. Just as the Psalmist says, “I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You.” Only God can satisfy.
What is your plan for the summer? A plan for being in God’s word is a first and vital step toward intimacy. I am going to read the New Testament this summer. I want to read through thoughtfully and regularly. I also want to be reminded of how personal God is– that He is the only “water” that will satisfy. I want to be seeking Him daily this summer, with the goal of intimacy. I guarantee you, with intimacy, we will not only be watered, but feel watered.
2- Christ- centered community needed God gives us different tools for “being watered”– tools to foster growth, intimacy and for becoming a watering person. The first and foremost, is His Word. We also need others who can spur us on and help “water us.” Usually, intimacy with God is stunted, when we ignore this. Sometimes it can be temporarily difficult to find community, but we need to have at least a few people in our life this summer who regularly are like a watering can to us. They pour out to us, encourage our growth and build us up.
Who can you spend time with that will encourage you in your faith? If you need to find a new church or go to church with a friend for the summer in order to have Christ-centered community, then do it! Make sure this is apart of your summer. See if you can find a church that has a summer bible study available.
3- Free time well spent This may seem like an odd thing to consider, but just stick with me! What is your “go- to” when you are bored, stressed, or just feeling lazy? Whether 19 or 49, if we don’t have some sort of a plan or forethought for time off or for our summer we will turn to “lesser” things to fill our “free” time. By lesser things, I mean things that are easy and comfortable to go to: like way too much time on the internet, shopping, facebook, watching movies, always being with friends or just focusing on ourself. Those things are not necessarily bad, but they won’t give us a “so much more” summer. We want to come out of our summer, not wishing to erase it, but to feel we have grown.
Decide ahead of time how you want to spend your free time. You know at the end of the summer you will feel much better after you read some good books, exercised or learned to do something new. (I spent some time one summer re-learning how to sew.) While, it may not seem like a big deal, choosing ahead of time how we will spend extra time off, can make a huge different in our summer. Our free time can “water” us or it can drain us.
Besides being watered, a great summer is one where we also “water.” As a result of being watered, we then have water to pour out. These are like the blooms that are produced as a result of growth. How can you pour out to others?
4- Who will you bless? Often the summers that I have seen the most growth are the summers I have stepped out in faith and trusted God, or when I have been investing in others. We are at our best when our eyes are off ourselves and we give to others. There have been summers I needed to raise a lot of money to go on a mission’s trip. That tested my faith! There was the summer in which part of our house flooded and I needed to remember what was really important. There were summers I took our kids out of school two weeks early to go on summer missions, which took a lot of planning, and work for a family of 6. Some questions to think about:
- Where can you water?
- Who in your life this summer needs to hear about God’s love for them personally?
- How can you serve your family, your parents or roommate?
- What has been entrusted to you that you can turn around and bless others with (time, finances, encouragement, the gospel, etc)?
I hope to spend more time with my “neighbors” down the street at the assisted living home. Even though many will not remember me later, I am always glad for the time I spend with them. There is also a new neighbor across the street neighbor I want to meet. As I help to send my husband, son and groups of students overseas on some summer mission projects, I can make a great investment through prayer. I want to have a summer of watering.
The key to a “so much more” summer is to be watered and to be watering.
One thing I learned through that summer many years ago, that I still think about is this: it always seems to feel better (temporarily) to have a “break.” It seems like, if I could just make my own plans, do my own thing, then I will be refreshed and feel better. Really, I have discovered through the years, it is more about being watered and watering in return. That makes for a much better summer of growth. Make it a summer that counts. Make it a summer that blesses. Pick a few of the things above to work on and see how your summer ends up. I imagine it will be so much better than the summer I was held up!