This year, that’s all we’ve got, 94 days of summer. That’s the time between the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and the autumn equinox. What will you do with yours?
I’m a big fan of the summer – the longer days, the hotter days. It evokes memories of holidays and day trips in the sun to the beach. Yes, I know it rains here in summer, but I somehow never remember those days!
Many of us will have some time off from the norm, perhaps a couple of weeks. If we’re still in education, we’ll have those six weeks off to enjoy (even though we may have to do a bit of work during that time). We may be able to get away somewhere for a break, or we may be having some time off at home.
It’s good to rest. In fact it’s great to rest. Even better, it’s biblical to rest! For some of us, rest is not doing nothing, but is simply a change in the something we are doing. Others of us are more rested the less we are doing.
We need the best rest and there are plenty of opportunities to use our summer for growth and service in God’s kingdom. Here are some ideas:
Reading and listening
For those who like to be less active, rather than doing absolutely nothing, we can exercise our minds by indulging in a good Christian book. Perhaps there’s an area you need to be particularly encouraged or challenged in, or something you’re struggling with. Why not get one or two books for when you’re lazing round the pool soaking up the sun? Why not read something a little out of your comfort zone or something you’ve had recommended by a friend?
Or, perhaps for those who are more active and can’t stop to read a book, download something onto your phone, plug in the headphones and listen as you go. As well as audio books, there are heaps of sermons to be found online (just make sure you’re listening to the good ones that are out there, not the rubbish!). With the internet we have access to the best preachers around the world. Whilst they should never replace the preaching of our own pastors, they can be a great supplement, especially when we’re away.
Short term missions
We may be only able to spare a week or two of our precious rest time but even that small amount can be used in opportunities for mission. Some of these are especially geared up for the summer months, like Beach Missions which seek to reach out to the holiday makers on the beaches.
There are a variety of opportunities through various organisations to go abroad for a short time in all sorts of areas of service. There are trips undertaking building work or medical care, and also those that are more explicitly for evangelistic purposes, or trips to visit and encourage those who have been sent out, so there’s something for everyone. But there are also plenty of opportunities here in the UK. Some local churches like to run summer missions and are always keen for people to be sent their way for extra help.
Conferences and camps
There are plenty of conferences and camps that go on especially over the summer months. Whilst they should never replace our local churches, they can be great opportunities for reminding ourselves of the larger church that we’re part of, which is always a big encouragement, especially for those from smaller churches.
Conferences and camps have often proved to be significant moments of growth in the life of Christians. They are special times of coming away from the norm to have fellowship with others and to have a particular focus in teaching, often from some excellent speakers. Of course, conferences and camps are also times for many to serve as well, as they do require armies of volunteers to make them viable. So not only are conferences and camps for growth but also can be times of service for those who help.
In those winter months, everyone tends to huddle up indoors in the evenings and stay in out of the rain. But in the summer, there’s opportunity to spend more time out and about and especially with people – people who need to hear about Jesus.
Perhaps you could hold a garden party and invite the neighbours around, or have a BBQ for all the parents of your children’s friends. Maybe, when on holiday, you can seek opportunities to make new friends with those on the same holiday as you. If you look for opportunities, they may come, but it’s almost guaranteed that if you’re not looking then you’ll miss some.
Whenever we’re on holiday, we always try to visit another local evangelical church, though this can be more difficult when abroad (although even when on honeymoon in Sri Lanka we managed to find a church we could attend!). As Christians it should be natural for us to want to meet with other Christians wherever we are.
There are other benefits to visiting other churches when you’re on holiday and unable to be at your own church. One is that it reminds you that your church is not the only church and your style of church isn’t the only style there is! God’s kingdom is much bigger. Another reason is that you may be an encouragement to those churches, some of which might be small and struggling, especially in small coastal towns or rural villages.
Summers come and go
When I come back from holidays, my tan is always that little bit darker (because I tan quite easily!) but it never lasts. Soon enough those winter months come and hide the strength of the sun and so the skin fades back to its original colour. Even the feelings of rest and relaxation are quickly disposed of in the busyness of work. Sadly, summer doesn’t last.
But our summers can be used for purposes that last not only this lifetime, but into eternity. As we use our summer months to grow ourselves up, to fellowship with other believers, to reach out to those who aren’t yet Christians, they can make a significant lasting impact. How will you use your 94 days?