Avoiding The Spiritual Slump of Summer
By Fin Sheridan
It’s the 22nd of July and we’ve already had a quite a lot of sun for one year… and I might have just ruined it by saying that. It’s been properly sunny too: 25 and upwards as opposed to all of Britain losing its mind at anything over 20.
When it gets hot, the UK grinds to a halt. All workplace norms seem to go out of the window, normally grumpy bosses start cheerfully passing round ice lollies, and no-one seems to really manage to get anything done.
Churches also run into this – summer becomes the time for family services, very short sermons because everyone would rather be outside and attendance varies from 6 people because “everyone is away on holiday” to 600 because “everyone comes on holiday here”. Summer in church life is often viewed as lost time. Pastors traditionally write off July and August, take the momentum hit as expected and then re-group in September and there is some wisdom there.
Often, whether consciously or unconsciously, we take this mentality into our own walk with God. We see summer as “time off”. Time off from routine, time off from our normal rhythm and then somehow we bundle our faith life into that too. Summer becomes our spiritual time off.
“When we open our eyes, the summer brims with the sacred.”
Yet summer is meant to lead us to greater appreciation of who Jesus is. He sets the seasons in place. These long summer days and short-lived British heatwaves are pictures and reminders of the character of God (See Psalms 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20).
The satisfaction of a cold drink in the sun is a picture of the satisfaction he offers, the coolness and refreshment subtly reminding us of the living water that quenches all thirst.
The laughter and joking and the sweetness of sun-soaked friendships are a picture of the deep, real friendship that he wants to draw me into.
The stunning sunsets, casting blood orange and gold across the sky, are a picture of how far my sin has been removed from me, how vast his love is for me and just how glorious Jesus is.
Rather than providing time off from God, summertime provides so many opportunities to grow closer to him. We often have more free time: more time in the morning to spend with his Word, more time to read books that challenge and grow us, long road-trips where we can sing along to worship songs, both familiar and new.
As we lie by the pool, we can listen to podcasts or sermons that refresh our soul. Conversations with friends, around the BBQ or picnics in the park, can inspire vision, hope and laughter. Family time gives us opportunities for gratitude and thanksgiving for the blessings God has given.
When we open our eyes, the summer brims with the sacred. Make a decision today, to avoid the spiritual slump. Who knows what you’ll reap for the rest of the year, having sown a different way during this summer?