We kicked off our summer for youth group this past weekend. We took our high school students on an overnight trip to the beach. It was a lot of fun but really signals the start of a 10-week push when life gets pretty busy.
Now my job is awesome and I will be busy going to camp and different youth group events, but I’ll still be busy. One of the dangers for all of us when we get busy is allowing our spiritual disciplines to slip. Even though I work at a church and spend my summer doing a lot of church activities, I still often forget to spend time with God.
So to make sure we stay focused on God even in the midst of a busy summer, here are some summer spiritual disciplines.
For a large percentage of the United States, May is the first month since October in which there hasn’t been snow on the ground. After polar vortex after polar vortex, I can imagine it will be nice to spend some time outside. Even in southern California where we had maybe three or four days of rain, the summer affords the opportunity to go outside and stay outside longer. God created an amazing world and we can experience him as we experience his creation. We can go on a walk through our neighborhood while listening to worship music. We can go for a hike and stop to appreciate the flora and the fauna. We can spend a day at the beach and see a fraction of God’s beauty as the sun sets over the ocean (or as it rises over the ocean for those on the east coast). Summer is made for long days running around outside. We can invite God into those moments and make them intentional spiritual disciplines.
In my town of Rancho Cucamonga, May and June are pretty nice months to be outside. Come July and August, though, triple-digit temperatures make staying inside seem like the better prospect. While we can experience God outside in his creation, we can also experience him inside a nice air-conditioned room. I love sitting inside on a hot day with a cold glass of Coke Zero and reading a book or writing. I definitely experience God through literary practices like reading and writing; a nice cool room on a hot summer day is very conducive to those practices. So if the sun gets a little too fierce, pass on the hike and pick up your Bible. If the heat goes from pleasant to blistering, forgo the walk and listen to some worship music while sipping an iced tea. And don’t underestimate the profound impact a good nap can make on your relationship with Jesus.
Some spiritual disciplines are best practiced alone. Others, like breaking bread and fellowship, can only happen with other people. I love the summer because it provides so many opportunities to gather with friends and family. Yesterday was Memorial Day and I’m sure many of you celebrated by gathering with friends for a BBQ. And while I never need an excuse to eat encased meats, gathering with friends is as good an excuse as any. Not only does gathering with friends give us an excuse to eat hamburgers and potato salad, it also gives us an opportunity to recognize God’s goodness in the fellowship of friends. Just last week we celebrated some good news with one of my friends. We had eight people gathered in our small apartment and it was a great experience. We didn’t have a Bible study and we didn’t sing any worship songs, but we all could sense the goodness of God in the food and the conversation.
I love the summer. While I don’t get 10 weeks off like our students, we do get to mix up our schedule and have a little fun. Even though it’s fun it can also be busy, something with which we can all identify. Hopefully knowing that the summer can be busy with vacations and BBQs will help us be more intentional in carving out time for God.
What summer spiritual disciplines do you like to practice?