Do you ever get that panicky feeling that summer is almost over and you haven’t actually relaxed? You had made your vacation plans in spring, along with a list of things you wanted to do with the kids and jobs you wanted completed around the yard, and now it’s almost fall and nothing got done. Perhaps you experience this sensation with great regularity, as I do, after many weekends of the year as well. Now the savage little children in your house need to be re-domesticated before school starts and that tree house you promised your kids will either be a fall project… or maybe a spring project… But will your kids be too old soon for a tree house? (Can you guess what this dad didn’t do this summer?)
For us our summer was not relaxing. Our family is part of an emergency foster parent program and so we have kids in care come through our home fairly regularly. We had talked about taking a hiatus from the program this summer so that we could regroup a bit and focus on ministry at Southland’s summer camp, but alas, it was not to be. As with many things in life foster care is unpredictable and heavily reliant on people; people whom are often broken or MIA or, in the case of many social workers, on vacation themselves. (DESERVED vacation! We love our social workers!) So, our precious kids stayed with us a bit longer than we had expected, all our camps were full and over-full, and in between weeks at summer camp I got to preach in Big Church. It was a busy summer. We are a bit tuckered out.
Now, even though the fall ministry kick-off looms large, we are squeezing a family vacation into the schedule before our 13 year old heads back to camp for his week of high school summer camp. And then school starts. Here’s how I keep my head in the game after a busy summer.
1 – I keep the game plan in mind
To be very honest, I have to work at not feeling regret over the lack of rest we got this summer, until I remember what was accomplished. We saw right around 300 middle school students come through the 3 weeks at camp I was responsible for and among students there is a buzz as we anticipate a new year of middle school ministry (a re-invented year!) Of those students, many were discipled in their faith while other’s made a first time decision to follow Jesus. I was able to watch my oldest son serve as a junior counselor for the first time – that was pretty incredible. I watched as our younger son made new friends each week he was at Bird River and we were able to pour love into two sweet, beautiful children in care before they leave our home, thank you Jesus.
Furthermore, I married off some former youth kids. I got to preach. I threw a wicked birthday party for my wife, Tara. I finished writing a short little book on parenting (maybe it’ll show up here in fall.) My dad turned 70. And, as I think back, there were many moments of laughter and joy.
And yes we are tired, but hopefully in the same way that the 70 disciples returned from their missions trip in Luke 10 rejoicing and full of joy! Although some projects were left undone and didn’t get a vacation (until now), we have to celebrate what God accomplished and not mourn what we didn’t.
2 – I try to live a present-future life
Christians must learn the art of living a present-future life. Far, far too many people do not live this way; they live past-present lives. That means that before they can live in the present they must travel through the wounds, pain, guilt and memories of their past, which is a tragic way to live. Far better is the goal of living a present-future life where we can be fully present in the eternal now anticipating what is just around the corner. Past-present people can’t anticipate the future!
This attitude is locked into the old sayings like “There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” It’s true! There isn’t! When people cry over spilt milk it means that they are so overwhelmed with a simple spill that they are almost paralyzed. I know people like this! Many people are like this and it has everything to do with letting go of unaccomplished summer goals.
So how do you live a present-future life? I’m glad you asked. The first part is dealing with your past. Where there is sin that needs confessing, confess it. Where restoration of relationships is required, restore them. Where people need to be forgiven for the pain they caused you, forgive them. Get alone with God and do some business and if you don’t know where to start call your pastor! But clean up your past, you entire life will actually more restful!
Then learn to walk with the Spirit. In Galatians 5:25 (NIV) it says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” At the beginning of summer I had five books on my reading list. This really isn’t unrealistic I have often read a book a week throughout the summer. I didn’t finish one. I didn’t even start 3 of them! And it bothered me because I thought God had wanted me to read them. But just past the half-way mark in the summer when I realized it wasn’t going to happen I went to God in my devotions and sense Him saying that nothing was wasted in my busy summer and that He was using it all to prepare me for fall ministry. That means the ridiculous amount of time it took to prepare the game for camp, wasn’t a waste of time, it was training. It was different training than I normally get when I read, but it was training. And that was a weight off my shoulders.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”Galatians 5:25 (NIV)
We must learn to move with the Spirit’s priorities. Yes we should plan, but we also need to pay attention to what God is already doing and then join Him in it! You will find yourself very busy, and very fulfilled. But guess what? You will not be able to “keep in step with the Spirit” if you haven’t worked at cleaning up your past. This verse comes on the heels of those famous “Fruit of the Spirit!” As His fruits increase in our lives, we will increasingly keep step with His priorities, and although we will be busy, our hearts will be full and rested.
Are you tired after a busy summer? I would encourage you to do several things.
- Write down all the things God accomplished in the past few months. Then ask Him if you forgot anything. And then worship Him for it.
- Ask the Father to gently show you areas of your past that are making you tired today. Is there unconfessed sin? People you need to forgive? People you need to ask for forgiveness from? Are there wounds that Jesus wants to address?
- Ask Jesus for His perspective as you go into a new season of busyness as school starts and programs kick off. Ask Him to help you plan and have the flexibility to change those plans as He sees fit.
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