“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”Colossians 3:2
Raise your hand if the month of May has been crazy busy. I know if you are a parent of school age children or a teacher then you are raising both hands. End of the year award ceremonies, parties, graduations, field trips, or moving out of your (or your child’s) college dorm or apartment only to soon be moving back in to another one in a couple of months can run us ragged. ‘Tis the season! But you can use this to your advantage, if you will look at it as a fresh re-start.
The end of the school year and the beginning of summer, even if you aren’t a teacher, parent of students or a student yourself, can be a new season. This is a good thing. Really, it is.
The year may be the same, but we can approach the summer months with the same sense of hopefulness and focus. By this time our New Year’s resolutions may have passed away, (RIP gym membership), and maybe some of them needed to go. Now is an opportunity to re-assess and focus again on what truly matters most to us.
However, unlike the new year which forces us to think of resolutions and new beginnings, once the summer months begin we can let the days speed on past. Before we know it, vacation has ended, it’s time to get back into that routine. Don’t let the summer state of mind throw you off track, instead “set your mind on things above.”
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a
Jesus invites us to come to Him, and to find rest in Him. In John 15, Jesus teaches us that God, the Father is the vinedresser. The vinedresser cultivates or prunes the grapevines. Our heavenly Father is carefully and purposefully cultivating our lives to bring a harvest of fruit. Our lives are meant to bring Him glory. Yes, pruning can be painful, but it is necessary. On my rose bush, I cut off the dead or dying roses so that it can make way for new buds resulting in more beautiful roses to enjoy.
Has God been lopping off dead stuff from your life over the past several months? Has He brought into the light of His grace areas of your character that need changing by the power of His Holy Spirit? Thank Him for it. Thank Him for all of the painful, difficult circumstances even if you don’t see the beautiful new growth yet. Thank Him for His discipline because He loves you.
Jesus is the true vine, our true foundation, and we are the branches. Jesus tells us that we must abide in Him because apart from Him we can do nothing. We will not produce fruit if we are not attached to the vine. A branch lying on the ground not attached to the vine will quickly wither and die. Looking back over the past several months, do you see fruit growing? Or are you stagnant? Maybe you are off trying to bear fruit in your own strength. You will not succeed and you will eventually wither, burnout and find yourself giving up. Don’t give up. Look up.
How I am setting my mind on things above
We need to be present in our most important relationship. Ann Boyd in her latest blog post, “How to Plan Your Summer Growth,” offers up some ideas for looking back. Why look back? Ann says, ” During the academic year, life can hurtle past at such a breakneck pace that we don’t have time to fully absorb experiences as they come, but there is time now to reflect and consider intense moments with care.”
Look at June 1st as an opportunity to abide, re-evaluate, take a breath, and realign ourselves back to God’s purposes. I am taking a few pointers from Ann Boyd, reflecting back and asking the questions she poses. If this list overwhelms you, then just choose one question:
- “What positive, joyful moments can you remember from this year?
- What painful, embarrassing, or grievous moments can you remember from this year?
- Consider jotting down a few notes about these memorable events. As emotions arise, present them to the Lord. He may have an invitation for you through them, or you might like to just hold them before him.
- Do you recall any helpful actions, patterns, or habits that you built into your life this year? Make note of those — and good job, you!
- Do you recall any unhelpful or destructive actions, patterns, or habits that arose in your life this year? Pause with these and ask the Lord what next step he might have for you in those.”
There are a couple of ways that I will share with you of how I am putting these principles into action. First, I am putting down my phone more. I have an iPhone which has a great little tool in Settings called “Screen Time.” I have put daily time limits on social media, and I have disabled almost all my apps (excluding texting and phone calls in case of emergency) after 8:00 p.m. This allows my brain to settle down for the night so I can sleep better, and it also allows my heart to get a break from over consumption of social media. Do I cheat sometimes? Yes, I confess that I do. That is how addicting it has become in my life.
Little by little
I have a home project that I have been procrastinating and it remains to be completed. This has been a drain on my soul, but small steps are powerful. I have taken this goal and broke it down into small doable steps. Every week I have written down one step that I can accomplish, and by the end of the summer this project will be completed. Doesn’t seem very spiritual to you? Whatever we do, we do it all to the glory of God.
Delighting myself in the Lord
Just the other day, as I was writing out my to-do list for the next day, a thought popped into my mind, “I need to sit out on my front porch in the morning.” I knew that I needed to just get away with Jesus. It was the weekend, so I took advantage before my day started off to get alone, sit on the front porch in my favorite chair and look out at creation. No other agenda. When was the last time you stopped everything to appreciate the beauty of God? Make time.
Summer is here
The choice is yours. Will you spend this summer as you have every other summer? Or will you slow down, take a few moments to pray a simple prayer and “seek first the kingdom of God”? He knows that what you need more than anything is Him. Everything else will line up as it should when we first put God above all. Don’t get overwhelmed, if you are then you are missing the point. Start with one thing.
And take heart, you can still have a do-over.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.Ephesians 5:15-17
These are just a few of the ways I am positioning my life to abide in Jesus. What is one way that you are being intentional? Also, if this has encouraged you, as I pray that it has, then let me know by commenting or contacting me through email (click on “Contacts” at the Menu above). I would love to hear from you!