“Spiritual Rhythm: Part 1- Summer-‘Love Will Keep Us Together'” By Mark Buchanan (1)

If you love ’70s music, then you can remember the title of this song: “Love Will Keep Us Together” by none other than Captain and Tennille. For it is this song that will serve as the title of chapter 5. Yet the reason I begin with “Summer” is because where I’m from (USA)  it feels like summer even though the calendar year says we have less than a week before summer officially hits. However, I am not so foolish to believe that it is summer all the way around the world. Like in New Zealand or Australia it is turning a bit nippy, where the beginning of jackets and sweaters are to be seen on people. Where there located it feels like winter. However, sometimes you experience winter outside, but spiritually, you feel like it is summer, like everything you touch, the places you go, you seem to succeed. It can move into your physical life to, as emotions, your mental state of mind are all on the up. Conversely, you can experience a rough dry spot spiritually which makes your day dull, frustrating, and given to sinful anger (not righteous anger Matthew 21:12-17) as it is beautiful summer day outside.

I encourage you to take a look at Running With Christ… to see my personal story of Being With Jesus Every Season Of Your Soul. So here we go with  Part 1: (chp. 5 and 6); he labels it by chapter. Chapter 5 contains Summer; chapter 6 contains things that you  would most likely do in summer called Summer Activities. Let us get started with the first quote:

“… If I am not careful, my nostalgia for the summer of ’75 spoils all the rest. It was my perfect summer. It was my endless summer (only it ended). It was my died-and-gone-to-heaven summer.

The Heart In Summer

Which in some ways is what summer is: a foretaste of heaven. It’s a rehearsal of paradise, a preview of the promised land.

The book of Revelation describes the kingdom of God in its fullness, and it’s a good place to begin understanding what the heart in summer feels like: ‘On each side of the river stood the tree of life bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2). Endless summer.

The sign of summer’s endlessness is an amazing tree~singular, one tree, according to the grammatical logic~that stands on both sides of the river and bears ‘twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.’ In God’s kingdom, the progression of months remains intact~one through twelve~but the cycle of seasons ends. Each month simply flows into another month of fruit-bearing sunshine and warmth.

Jesus explicitly equates the kingdom of God with summertime. …” (page 112)

Heaven is the words that Jesus spoke of in His revelation to the Apostle John, once John wrote it down to be delivered to the seven churches, and to all True Life Christians both then and now, and to everyone who have ears to hear. Most Bibles in the USA have what is to be considered titles after a section of verses; Revelation 22:1-5 is one of the last in the Bible to contain this. In fact, Revelation 22:1-5 is the section titled, The River of Life. I have a sneaky suspicion that all life in heaven is going to have no water or sea like we see down on earth, but all those who will see the new earth will have Jesus, The River of Life, which there will be no need for water as we currently know it (Revelation 21:1-3).

But reflect for a moment on the connection He (Jesus) makes between summer and the kingdom. What do we associate with summer? Fruit, warmth, light, rest, play, wonder, festival, joy, reunion, holidays (vacations). All, Jesus implies are kingdom experiences. The kingdom of heaven, Jesus told us in story upon story, is a banquet, a homecoming, a festival. The writer of Hebrews says the kingdom is the true Sabbath, a sustained and restoring rest, a full and final reprieve from life’s misery and drudgery and loss.

In the heart’s summertime, we experience all of this-vitality, connectedness, rest. It abounds in fruitfulness, warmth, and shade. There’s ample daylight, and we find sheer delight in God and what He’s made. It’s the diametric opposite of winter. In winter, God is like an enemy, friends become strangers, and death and darkness saddle up close. But summer flips that: God and others draw immediately near, light and life surround us, and night and mourning flee away. Darkness seems like a tacky rumor, death a feeble opponent.

So summertime’s a taste of the kingdom. It’s savoring a morsel of heaven, sweet and brief, where God is fully present, shines His light day and night. Fresh fruit is in season twelve months of the year. Reunion and retreat alternate.

How do you know you’re in summer? Simply, things flow. Your life seems marked by effortlessness. Fruit comes easily Joy rises naturally. Light shines everywhere. You have energy to spare. Most seasons of our hearts demand something from us, some sacrifice, some labor, some deep wrenching adjustment.  But summer just wants to give and give.  It’s only demand is that we surrender to it, bask in it. Spiritual insight hangs plump from low branches. It’s easy to nourish ourselves, warm ourselves,  refresh ourselves. In our hearts’ summertime, God seems giddy with beneficence, prodigal with welcome. Every other day He’s serving up the fattened calf and throwing a Mexican fiesta for no good reason except, it’s Tuesday.

There is not much here not to like. It’s as good an apprenticeship as I know.” (pages 113-114)

True! Here, there is not much to like as we will spend the rest of eternity being in the presence of God enjoying bountiful fruit like no other. However, my adolescent years (before I turned 18) was as close to heaven as described in the previous passage: How do you know you’re in summer? Simply, things flow. Yes, my adolescent life was mostly a summer experience of the heart. Sure, I had some set backs, like getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, broke the lower half of my right leg days before I went for my driver’s test, and some other experiences, but my heart, my soul experienced summertime.

My physical ailments were nothing to what I can say were my spiritual growth during the time frame of about 5 years. Of most significance was my calling to what I thought was a pastor for the adolescent youth. God let me pursue my dreams of being an adolescent pastor for 5 years, getting awards all along the way, which I turned to His glory.

Shortly after turning 18, my life would experience a winter of the soul; by the calendar year it was the beginning of summer. I specifically labeled this “Spiritual Rhythm: Part 1- Summer-‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ By Mark Buchanan (1)”. Look out for “Spiritual Rythm: Part 1 Summer-‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ By Mark Buchanan (2)”.

“How Do You Measure Your Spiritual Growth?”~Mark Buchanan

~Darren Beattie, The Soul Blogger