Our Summer Rest

Originally published Wednesday, 05 June 2013.

School is done and summer is here. We don't have to get up early. Days are spent at the beach or beside the pool. Our skin soaks in the sun and we enjoy less hectic days.

As homeschoolers, I've found that if we stop school entirely for the summer, my kids forget so much of what they learned the previous year. We end up spending the first month of school in the fall reviving their memory from its slumber. Rather than completely abandon school during the summer, we do a little each day. This keeps their skills fresh and ready to jump into school once it starts again full force.

I find this to be true in my spiritual life. When I go on vacation, my normal routine gets set aside. But so does my Bible reading and prayer time. And then my spiritual memory fades. My grip to the vine of Christ loosens its hold. Like muscles gone without use, my spiritual stride struggles and I slow down.

In A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life, John Piper says this about summer:

"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."

This summer, my family is traveling for a month. I don't want to get to the end of that month and find that I've left all thoughts of God at home. I don't want to enter vacation without Him. In fact, I want my vacation to be about Him, with Him, and through Him.

Scripture doesn't speak about taking vacations. But it does refer to rest and when it does, it relates rest to our spiritual rest found in Christ. Christ came to fulfill and bring about our Sabbath rest, to free us from striving to do life on our own. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). He completely fulfilled the law so that we could rest in God's grace. One day He will return again to bring complete and final rest for our souls. Summertime and vacations ought to be a time to remember the rest Christ accomplished for us and the eternal rest to come. "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest" (Hebrews 4:9-11).

So whether I sit by the pool, lie on the beach, gaze at the mountains, or walk along the river, I want to view summer vacation in light of what Christ has done and what is yet to come. As I stay up later with the long summer sun, I want to soak in the rays of joy that one day God will be the only light I'll need. And as I feast in sweet fellowship with my family in Christ, I want to get a foretaste of the Great Banquet to come.

"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end." Isaiah 60:19-20