A Summer Update

By Jane Highley

Summer is not over (hardly), yet the end feels dreadfully near. The back-to-school ads have been consistent and catchy ever since we feasted on burgers on Independence Day. But they only serve to remind us teachers this universal truth: summer is unjustly the shortest season. I wrote a post about six weeks ago  (June 21) delineating my summer goals, promising myself that I will “Get things done!” Thankfully, I’m not here to woefully announce what a spectacular failure that turned out to be. On the contrary, I am happy to report that I have been making steady progress in achieving those “Summer Syllabus” goals. Here are a few “lessons” that I have been learning on goal-setting, summer rest, and godly productivity.

1. Rest is not natural, but being lazy is. For those of you who know me, I am not one to sleep in just for the sake of sleeping. (During the height of my college-age naiveté, I used to believe that sleep was a waste of time. Now that I am staring down at the thought of turning 40 next year, I realize how many hours I deprived myself of such glorious slumber – and without children!) Sustainable rest is a discipline that requires scheduling and intention, especially during the summer when my school-year routines get shucked to the side for a more care-free normal. Short of writing “Sleep” or “Rest, 8-9:30 pm” into my calendar, I have to plan my rest times throughout the week to force myself to see a big-picture view of my priorities and to calibrate them to gospel-values.

2. Abiding in Christ and fervently pursuing goals are not two mutually exclusive actions. I used to believe that I could only do one or the other. Similarly, I also used to believe that those two goals could only co-exist in my life if they were one and the same — pursuing hard to abide in Christ. Now I know enough that having all kinds of goals – getting a second Master’s degree, training for a half marathon, mastering the headstand – is not ungodly, nor is it un-Christlike. To abide in Christ is to live in the Word, to accept his grace, and to show  transformation by that grace in daily obedience to Jesus. Sinclair Ferguson said it better: “Remaining in Christ’s love comes to very concrete expression: simple obedience rendered to him in the fruit and evidence of love for him.” [1]

3. God sees time in terms of Genesis and the Garden to Revelation (and beyond). I, on the other hand, see time in terms of what I ate yesterday and what I will make for dinner tonight. My limited human sensibility only allows me to see time in 168-hour fragments and quarterly seasons. God, however, works according to the perfect timing of his plans, and that is a truth that I am talented at forgetting, year after year. This year’s Cubs and Kids-in-Motion Camps kicked off yesterday with the Creation story, and I am yet again stunned to silence that God’s momentous formation of the earth is evidence of his careful planning and precise execution of goals. Six days to create and one day to rest were  just the right amount of time for him. Yet God the Father allowed for his Son to exist in agonizing separation from him (on our behalf!) for three days till the day of his resurrection. What is one day to God? What is one lifetime? The theme verse for Cubs-in-Motion is Chronicles 29:11, which summarizes the praise I feel because God is in charge: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head of all.” Including my schedule, my time, and my goals. To my relief, I can relinquish them in his expert hands.

[1] http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-abide-christ/