Five Ways to Use Your Summer Well

The kids are out of school, the days are longer, and schedules can be a little less crazy. Ice cream trucks are prowling the neighborhood and family vacations are on the calendar.

It’s summer. 

The changing seasons are God’s gift to us, allowing us to do things now we can’t do the rest of the year. As with any time of year, summer presents unique opportunities and unique temptations for Christians. So how do we use summer well? 

First, re-focus on God’s Word and your spiritual disciplines. 

You started out well with your Bible reading in January, but life’s happened and you’ve fallen off. Summer is a great point to re-commit and get back on the wagon. Find a Bible reading plan and re-commit to getting into the Bible. Even fifteen minutes a day, and you’ll be surprised how much ground you can cover. 

Avoid the danger of neglecting your spiritual disciplines because “it’s summer and I’ve been really busy.” While it’s fine to dial back on unnecessary social commitments, it’s dangerous to walk away from our spiritual disciplines. Attending church, like Bible reading and prayer, is something we need for our souls and our walk with Jesus (see Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25). It’s less like a weekend vacation to the beach and more like the weekly trip to the grocery store. It’s not like your softball league–something you do for fun–and more like eating every day–something necessary for your survival and amazingly enjoyable. 

Second, read a good Christian book. 

A lot of people do summer reading with extra time, and while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a novel, why not include one or two Christian classics to deepen your love for God? Along with your Bible reading, getting into something like Knowing God by J.I. Packer or Desiring God by Piper can be a real encouragement. Ask your pastor for a book recommendation, or even consider getting a group together from your church to read the same book and discuss it together at various intervals. 

Third, enjoy time with your family. 

You’ve got 18 summers with your kids before they graduate and (hopefully) leave home as mature, independent adults. Use the time well to have the life-giving conversations commended to us in Deuteronomy 6:5-8. Use car rides for conversations. Make memories, share laughter together, explore the place you live, take camping trips, and eat ice cream. 

You don’t have to take expensive vacations to do any of that. Frankly, Disney World is way overrated (and overpriced), and your local State Park is way under-rated. Family is one of God’s greatest gifts, and summer is one of the best times to most fully enjoy it. 

Fourth, turn off the screens and go outside. 

Our hearts are so easily captivated by the glowing screens and the tantalizing promises of novelty offered by our smart phones, TV screens, and iPads. But the Creation is full of greater wonder than anything you’ll encounter online. It just takes a little more effort to see it. 

When you find joy in a sunset, admire the intricacies of a leaf, are awed by the power of a thunderstorm, you are enjoying the work of God. Just like a father is happy when his son enjoys the swingset he just built, so “our God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Take some evening walks, sit out on the back porch and watch a thunderstorm, and be sure to praise God for his creation. Check out Psalm 19 and Psalm 104 for examples of praising God for His glory in creation. 

Fifth, rest and reflect. 

Chances are, summer affords more opportunities to rest and reflect.. We should not feel guilty about resting. God, after all, was the one who created us to need sleep every night (see Psalm 127), a Sabbath every week (Exodus 20), and even annual vacations (see the pattern in Israel’s festivals). True rest is not to be confused with its enemy, “laziness” or its look-alike imposter “leisure.” Andy Crouch, in his book The Tech-Wise Family, points out that while rest is purposeful, leisure is often purposeless and fruitless. When we rest, we rest from our own work. When we pursue leisure, we rest while other people work to cater to us (like when you “rest” by watching other people play sports or provide entertainment). Take time this summer to devote days to true rest. Power off the devices. Turn off the TV. Don’t set an alarm. Be present with your family. 

Take the time to reflect on your year so far, your walk with Jesus, and the path ahead. We don’t tend to reflect much when we are racing through our days and weeks; having deliberate time for reflection, confession, and meditation in God’s presence is good for our souls (see Psalm 1). 

What things would you add to the list? What are ways you have made memories and drawn closer to God during the summer? 


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