Days have lengthened in my hemisphere, and leaves and flowers and birds are flourishing in summer’s glistening sunlight. Friends have left town for relaxation and days have slowed for schoolkids. I sense that it’s time for me to heed a warning I’ve read each of the last couple years when the calendar rolls to June.
From John Piper:
“Every season is God’s season. But summer has its special power.
Jesus Christ is refreshing, but flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched. At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer, and neglect the Word. But then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.
Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come—“things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.
Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18), including vacations and picnics and softball and long walks and cookouts. He invites us in the summer: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This is serious summer refreshment.
Do we want it? That is the question. Christ gives himself to us in proportion to how much we want his refreshment. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 11:12). One of the reasons to give the Lord special attention in the summer is to say to him “We want all your refreshment. We really want it.” …
What sort of summer mindset is this? It is the mindset of Colossians 3:1-2:
If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
In the summer the earth is very much with us. And it is God’s earth! But it is all prelude to the real drama of heaven. It is a foretaste of the real banquet. It is a video preview of the reality of what the eternal summer will be like when “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:23). So, you see, the summer sun is a mere pointer to the sun that will be: the glory of God. Summer is for seeing and showing that. Will we have eyes to see? Do you want to have eyes to see? Lord, let us see the Light beyond the campfire.” (John Piper, Setting our Minds on Things Above in Summer, Aug. 3, 2005)
If you find yourself coveting the summer relaxation of others, or slipping into the pursuit of Christless leisure, heed Piper’s warning. What may feel at first like freedom will by summer’s end parch your soul. Don’t pay with shallowness and powerlessness.
Don’t let your soul shrivel.