July 5, 2009

Summer in the Garden of Weedin'

Starting today I'm posting every other Monday at Exemplify Online. I'm excited to be a part of this growing online community that's filled with excellent writers and sisters in Christ.

(I've had some technology issues, so pray my first post actually shows up properly. I'll settle for showing up at alll!)

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Fourth of July says summer’s here, but those “lazy days” have yet to find their way into my reality. Instead, unpredictable schedules, vacations, outings and kid-focused days (many of which resonate with “I’m bored!”) turn my normally ordered days topsy-turvy.

Even my devotion time gets lost in the chaos. We often miss church because of traveling schedules. My Bible studies take a break until school starts again. Close Christian friendships wane as our friends face the same unpredictable schedules. Honestly, it’s tempting to take a vacation from God altogether. Lord, I’ll get back to you in the fall when things settle down.

Judging by attendance at church yesterday, I’m not alone in my thinking.

I found insight over the weekend as I tended the gardens I’d carefully prepared in the spring—but largely neglected since then. How quickly nature had started to take over my little plot! Weeds staked their claim. Invasive plants flourished, enveloping whatever garden territory they desired. (Unless you REALLY love mint, keep it contained in a pot!) I began to imagine the weedy, overgrown mess I’d face at the end the summer if I didn’t tend to my beds at all.

As I worked I thought, this is why I’ve ended many summers in a spiritual funk. Left unattended, my garden of faith reverts back to its “nature.” Weeds of sin take root. Bad habits invade. And the enemy looks to reclaim what is his. (1 Peter 5:8)

 When I neglect my “spiritual gardening,” my faith resembles a hobby, not a commitment. Try to imagine the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians, “We’re taking a break for the summer so enjoy yourselves until we get together again in September.” Paul would see that idea as inconceivable—as if someone suggesting he stop breathing. To him, to live was Christ. Jesus was his life’s focus 24/7/365. He didn’t take “time off.”

And so it should be for every one of us that follows Jesus.

Does this mean we can’t take a vacation? That our ministries should never take a break? Or that we must rule our summer schedules with an iron fist? No, but we need to remember first and foremost to whom we belong—every day, no matter what the season.

Each year I’m slowly learning that without the structured spiritual activities of the school year, I need to be deliberate and creative about tending to my faith garden during the summer. I’ve actually found that the lack of structure has allowed me to see God in new ways and with fresh eyes.

The good news is God makes a wonderful traveling companion. Wherever we go, there He is also. The beauty of summer provides a glorious backdrop to meet with our Creator.  Worship, devotional time, prayer and faith exploration can happen anywhere, anytime—by the pool, on the beach, on a mountaintop, at an out-of-town church, in the car, amid chaos or solitude, as the sun rises or sets. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

God doesn’t take a vacation from us. The least we can do is return the favor.


Sassy Granny ... said...

First ... I really like the new picture. What a fresh, alive and invitingly warm greeting!

I also appreciate your thoughts on "time outs". Good to keep our eyes focused on the day-by-day needs of the believer. His mercies are truly new every morning. We dare not skip one!

Be blessed,

Anonymous said...

The link wasn't working for me, but I will be back to check again tomorrow or the next day. I always love reading what you have to say :)

Peggy said...

Dear Kelli...
Finally got the whole story, and it was great.
Wrote a comment on the website for you.
Congradulations on your new adventure.
Blessings and Love....Peggy

Jody Hedlund said...

That was an EXCELLENT article, Keli! Summer schedules aren't very relaxing in my house either! Of course the change of pace and the the extra sunshine are welcome after the doldrums of a Michigan winter! But I love your analogy with the gardening--and it reminds me I need to weed mine soon!

Beautiful new picture! And congrats in writing for the online magazine!

Terri Tiffany said...

Wonderful article Kelly! I know very few people were around yesterday in church--and that happens--but as you said, we need to keep God foremost in our daily walk--He is right there everywhere we go.
I love your picture!! Great shot:)

Saleslady371 said...

Congratulations on your magazine assignment, Kelly. Your pic looks lovely and professional. And I always love your writing and profound thoughts.

Alexis P said...

I know how it feels, I have missed church almost 4 weeks now and Sunday I will miss it again. I pray that all of our family weekend travel and craziness does not disconnect me. I fill my prayers that I can still keep him in my heart and feel close to him everyday despite missing Sunday service.
Love the new profile pic, very pretty.

Cheryl Barker said...

Congrats on your new gig! I left a comment over there, too -- great post!