Warm up and rest up. Frolic with childlike abandon. Wrestle with the dog. Visit people we haven’t seen all year, or longer. Take holidays (vacations)-holy days, times of Sabbath renewal, touching earth and breathing heaven. Response: rest until our pose of anxious weariness gives way to one of limber readiness, until our two speeds of rushing and crashing becomes a seamless rhythm of receiving and giving.
Lie in the sun.
Sleep in the shade.
Read in a hammock.
Do this in the most earthy and ordinary ways. Summer is a time for enjoying God and others, without reserve and without apology. It is a time of rediscovering the sheer pleasure of simply being alive: waking early or sleeping late, wading lake shores or tenting in rain forests, talking under starlight or staring silently, for hours, at clouds. Likewise, the summer of the heart is marked by leisure and pleasure, a kind of holy hedonism. We strive for nothing and yet have everything. We relish abundance without needing to hoard it or feel guilty about it. We heed the counsel that Scripture gives to rich people: don’t trust in your wealth, which is so uncertain, but trust in God, “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 *TNIV).
In the summer of the heart, we get that: abundance isn’t for trusting in; it’s for enjoying.
But there are a few opportunities, even necessitates, of summertime.
THE RHYTHMS OF KINGDOM LIVING
The people of God are already, the Bible says, citizens of heaven. Our heavenly citizenship doesn’t get transferred upon death, like a widow’s pension, but is established the moment we turn and follow Jesus. Part of our apprenticeship in Jesus, then, is learning to live the kingdom life even now, especially now, that we’re not home. If summer is equated with the fullness of the kingdom, we should pay close attention to the activities-inactivities- of summertime. That, indeed, is a major clue to what it means to do God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven. (pages 124-125)
One summer I went to visit one of my best friends. Years before, we had been in a grocery store for approximately 4 years where she told me things that that you don’t ordinarily tell another workmate; however, she sensed I was more mature than any guy that she knew, up to that point, and because I asked knowing that if she began to let me in, I would have a friend for life. And she did.
Back to that summer, I went to visit her. Though we had been separated for years, we came back together like we never missed a beat of togetherness. Turning our eyes to spiritual things, what I just explained of us coming together after being separated for years, was pure joy, just like our Father in heaven when all of us True Life Christians finally come home to our glorious, undeserved and unworthy place in heaven alongside our Father, the Son (our new husband), and the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, I had to leave my best friend’s place after only what seemed like a few hours, but once we’re in heaven, True Life Christians will never have to leave for all of eternity God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That’s pure joy in the eternity of summer with the Godhead!
This counsel was drilled into us at an early age: “Look both ways before you cross the street.” It’s wise, deep, versatile. It served me well for a whole lifetime. I failed to heed it just once, at age six. I just learned to ride a bike, and coming to my first intersection, I sailed straight through. I never looked either way.
I nearly became a hood ornament. The driver of a big bulky car caught me in its sweet spot. The impact folded my bike like newspaper and sent me tumbling across the car’s entire length, landing me in a heap at the tailgate. I ended up in the hospital, bruises everywhere, a mild concussion. The pudding, the coloring book and a day off from school made it almost worth the while.
Still, I learned in my bones the sagacity of that counsel. “Look both ways before you cross the road.” I never since done otherwise.
But does the counsel apply elsewhere? Is it also a metaphor for life? Should I, should you, always look both ways-to the past, to the future-before crossing the street, before stepping into a new place?
Memory is a gift. It makes maps of human terrain-our emotional and intellectual and spiritual and social worlds. It tells us where we are, and where we need to go to get someplace else. Philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Much of the Holy Spirit’s work is to remind us of Jesus and His ways.
But memory is also a trap. It makes fetishes of some things, taboo of others. It woos and terrifies us too easily, dictating our future with an authority it’s rarely earned. I know scads of people whose hurts from the past foreclose the risks that they need to take to get to the other side. I know many people whose idealizing of the past has turned them bitter in the present and wary of the future.
They’re stuck. That is not memory’s best work. It’s memory gone rancid, memory turned maggoty.
Take a moment and be still before God. Ask Him to search you and know your heart. Ask Him to show you any area where your stuck-where, for fears of dangers on the road, you refuse to cross it, or where, missing something you once had, you long to go back. Ask Him to help you identify the memory (or memories) that controls that. Then interrogate that memory. Is it really telling you the truth? Does it wield a power greater than it should? Is it the last word?
I had a habit of aloofness that was hurting the people I love. I dug down to the memories that drove this-this experience of growing up in a town where stepping into another’s personal space meant a fight. It was never a gesture of friendship or intimacy. So I learned to keep my distance, avoid eye contact, give short answers.
It was keeping me from crossing the street. But once I hauled it into the witness stand those memories and cross-examined them, they proved contradictory, full of lies, trafficking in rumors.
So I rejected their testimony.
And now I hug a lot, and look people in the eye, and give long answers.
There’s a lot of room created from kicking one bad memory out. (pages 122-123)
This chapter of Spiritual Rhythm is on summer, where Mark Buchanan offers a striking similarity between physical summer and spiritual summer, where things are free spirited and light. Then you come across a little segment of spiritual summer (that has always been there) you want to keep hidden away. Maybe by willfully ignoring that aspect of your personality, something deeper or lighter (that person that you don’t like to see) that part of you that if you had let it see the light of day are scared that it will overtake you and change the mind of those that you influence for the bad. Most of us care what other people think, and you just want that piece of your personality to go away so you can enjoy the rest of summer. We all have this sinful trait in us since Adam and Eve devoured that delicious yet sinful fruit.
There is actually a catch 22 involved in this part of summer; it is called ignorance. Ignorance is good some of the time as I have claimed ignorance when there was situations in my life where I was “blissfully ignorant.” However, ignorance can be mosty bad, especially when you don’t want to see a flaw in your own personality. So you protect “it” whatever deep flaw you have in yourself.
I have a tendency to reflect on what I did especially after a major incident, and this was no exception. I came back after a walk I took to calm myself down and beginning to reflect, I stopped cold-turkey from watching wrestling. The fi
I thought I was “blissfully ignorant” when I began to watch wrestling in the early to mid 1980’s. It seemed innocent enough, and it didn’t have an effect on my personality, or so I thought. My watching of it had subtly grown through the years until one night, I got into a heated argument with three of my close friends. They even said that my watching of wrestling had grown to an unhealthy level. I couldn’t see where they were coming from until that night when I saw, for the first time, when I saw wrestling as not good for me.
Don’t let the involvement of free willed, largely care free, experience of your spiritual summer bite you with some flaw in your personality, thinking you’ve, by some happen chance, it’s not going to appear when all along you know it’s there- hidden in a corner until it rises once again. Throughout my life, I’ve found this useful, “Looking Both Ways Before You Cross.” I know that all of us who weren’t born in a Divine way struggle with this. Please do me a favor and like, comment, or do both on this particular post. 😇
Darren Beattie, The Soul Blogger
True Life Christianity would like you to share this:
Nostalgia is an inescapable part of summer, part of its lure and magic, it’s strange tint of melancholy. Every summer since 1975 has, for me, had this tint. Its joy, bright otherwise, shades darkly at the edges. Its melody, mostly happy throughout, shifts at the bridge to aminor key.
I’m occupationallyobliged to be an enemy of nostalgia. It’s not good for church growth. I have to deal with it weekly, sometimes daily: the stalwart charter member who laments the passing of those golden days when “we didn’t have to pay people to do [fill in the blank: custodial work, grounds maintenance, Sunday School supervision, office help].” It’s a long list. I deal with the transfer or defector from another church who remembers, constantly, the way it was done back then and there, and holds up that model of superiority and standard of excellence even if, just a few months ago, they were telling me how bad it was back then and there. I even deal with the fourteen-year-old who bemoans a change in the youth group or complains that “we never do those old songs anymore,” then by way of example cites a song, from my perspective, is still warm from the printer.
So I’ve had to set my face like flint against all that. It’s onward and upward. It’s charting a bold course into the future. It’s taking hill country, leaving the the pastureland to the sissies. And so on.
But I also have to deal with myself, with my own nostalgia, my own tendencies to scavenge among the bones. I lost things I can’t recover: my hair, my elasticity, my knees that I could ski moguls all day and still carry my body upright the next, unimpeded. A dog who romped and bounded, and always found me companionable. And those are the specifics, the things I can name and picture. Mostly, I’ve lost something I can’t name, can’t see, never held in my hand. A mode, a tone, a note. A quality underneath things that was easily missed at the time, and dearly missed ever since.
The summer of ’75 was, at the time, just another summer, more or less. I had, in June, left that awful place I described in my chapter on winter and moved to Vancouver, which was exotic for me as moving to Morocco or Rio de Janeiro, or Narnia. So I was primed for magic. But all the same, I was too young to know that I’d one day be old. I was to happy to know that life has long stretches, unavoidable, of sorrow. Simply, I didn’t know what I had until I didn’t have it. I didn’t even have the dog yet, let alone the deep sadness of losing the dog.
And, what’s more, death in any significant way had not yet come remotely close. My brother had a friend die in middle school- he was large and clumsy and fell down a steep bank and broke his neck- and my brother was asked to be a pallbearer, which seemed to me a dark honor. And my crazy violent grandfather whom I’d never met- whom, indeed, my mother, his own daughter, hadn’t seen, spoken to, or heard from since the forties, when he hightailed it out of her life and left my grandmother to raise four children- was found dead in a rooming house in Victoria, smelly and gaunt and penniless. These things were rumors to me than realities, and more titillating than devastating.
So I had the hubris of youth, the sense of invincibility and immortality. I was Icharus, and believed I could fly near the sun and not melt my wings. I was Achilles, and thought I could fight all wars and never expose my heel. I was Tithonus, and and had forgotten to ask for eternal youth along with eternal life, but at this stage of the game that seemed no great oversight.
Now I’m nearly half a hundred years, and the hubris, for the most part is gone; it’s unsustainable in the face of reality. It’s hard to be proud and paunchy both, to be cocky and cockeyed at the same time, to swagger with a limp. It’s hard to think of life going on and on when the weight of evidence is overwhelmingly otherwise.
And it’s hard to fully enjoy summer when your body bears the scars and sufferings of many winters, its diminishments andaccretions. It’s hard, in fact, not to be a tad nostalgic for other summers, perfect summers. It’s hard not to pine for the summer of ’75.
Now, I’ve come a long way to say a simple thing: I think nostalgia is really misplaced anticipation. (pages 117-118)
For my life (and maybe yours too), nostalgia was like going through my physical childhood after my first summer as a Christian faded away just like summer days heading into fall. And the sun erases one minute daily until mid-fall, but we don’t keep track of it until that first cold winter breeze hits reminding us that winter is around the corner. Sure, there were some moments where I wondered what the Lord was going to do with my life.
Summers have set backs to, or at least mine did. The first big set back was when I went to the optometrist and discovered that I needed glasses because I planned on being an U.S. Air Force pilot. That was my dream at that young age; my grandfather, who was fought in WW2 in the navy, and my brother, who had been sent home from boot camp due to a medical condition, decided on pursuing the Navy because they love the sea. Rather than join the Navy, I decided that I wanted fly planes because of the aerial acrobatics I saw they did as many times I went up to Pease Airforce Base to see the Thunderbirds of the U.S. Airforce.
My dream of being an U.S. Airforce pilot were nearly shattered since I was holding out hope that they would come up with a surgery that would correct my vision; and they did; it was called Lasik surgery. By the time health insurance would mostly pay for lasik and it was affordable for my family, I was hit with another devastating illness, type 1 diabetes. Getting diagnosed erased my hope and dream of being an airforce pilot, and I was in a tailspin. Devastated, I cried out to the Lord. Multiple times, I said to the Lord, “All I wanted to do is serve You, and You’ve taken away serving You through the airforce, and now I have a potentially debilitating disease! What were You thinking?” But the Lord knew all along, for He chose me for for what I was to encounter shortly after I turned 18.
I spent a couple of years waiting on the Lord until one day I was in 9th grade, and after school, playing basketball, I received my calling. It was like the Lord saying, “I want you for service.” A few moments passed by for me to grab onto the gravity of what the Lord was calling me to, but once I did, I thought the Lord was calling me into youth ministry, because, in my little mind, I thought that the Lord wouldn’t call me to something that was a hardship. Previously, before I received my calling from the Lord, I was active in youth group so I decided it was the Lord that was calling through various tests, just like Gideon- to be a permanent youth pastor.
I found myself in front of my youth group, next I found myself in front of my whole church. I wanted to make sure that it was all for the glory of God, so whatever glory I received was given back to God. Quickly, I went from my own church to other local and regional churches giving the praise I got and handing it over to the Lord. Then came youth retreats and summer camps. To tell you I was on fire for the Lord would be an understatement because I took first place in a summer camp in 1986 in front of over 300 teens. Again, I did not want praise of men (actually mostly teens) so I redirected the praise I received to the Lord Jesus Christ, using the praise I got as confirmation of my calling to be a youth pastor.
“Now, I’ve come a long way to say a simple thing: I think nostalgia is really misplaced anticipation. … The idea is that nostalgia is expectancy in reverse. It’s our instinct for heaven rummaging in the storage closet, hoping that our heart’s desireis in there somewhere, hidden amid the clutter of keepsakes and accumulated debris” (Pages 118-119)-Mark Buchanan.
As you read this, maybe you have gone or are going through a similar experience? Tell me about it. I want to here, and please stay tuned in as we will look at Tune-In 9: ‘Look Both Ways Before You Cross?’ found in page 122-123, the end of the summer section. But don’t worry, there is more as next time we will go into the section titled: Summer Activities. 😇