This is Part 3 of the 4 part series: Navigating the Seasons of Life. This series has also been expanded and made into a Bible Study, with questions and scriptures at the end of each chapter. It can be DOWNLOADED for free by clicking on the Free Downloads button on the Home page. Enjoy!
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy/Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high/Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-looking’/So hush little baby, Don’t you cry. (DuBose Heyward)
In the summer, life is easier. Balmy breezes replace cold nights and everyone is more relaxed. You don shorts, a t-shirt and some flip-flops and you’re ready to go out and enjoy another gorgeous day. Parents with small children love summertime because the days of snow pants and boots and jackets and hats and mittens, and rain boots and rain jackets are over. You’re dressed in 20 seconds flat and your kids can pretty much manage on their own.
In the summer, the days are longer so you feel like you have all the time in the world. That time crunch imposed by early darkness gives way to a sense of abundance. You have more time and more energy to work and play outside and kick back with neighbors and friends.
There is plentiful light, sunshine, wildlife, flowers and produce in the summer. You work less and play more and take in the healing heat of the sun’s rays.
A spiritual summertime is a time of answered prayer. The baby has arrived. You’re finally married. The healing has come. You love your new job. The financial breakthrough is finally here! Your kids are thriving and your work is fulfilling. Life is never perfect, but you really have very few complaints.
Weeping endured for the night, but joy has finally come. The birth pains are over and at last you get to hold your answered prayer (Ps. 30:5; John 16:21).
Summertime came for Joseph when he rose from prisoner to ruler in Egypt, married and had 2 sons and was finally reconciled with his extended family. (Gen 41-47). It came for Esther when the king listened to her plea and she saved her people from genocide (Esther 7). And it came for Ruth when she left the gleaning fields and married Boaz (Ruth 4).
How has it come for you?
In the summer it’s easy to give. You throw extra burgers on the grill and spontaneously invite people over; the kids can play outside and it’s no problem to add a few extra chairs at the table.
The same is true during a spiritual summer. You’ve been blessed; now it’s time to give. It may be tempting to hoard during this season of abundance: to make a bigger barn, to close in and protect this precious thing God has just given you. But time and again in Scripture, God calls us to give out of our abundance, to make a bigger table, rather than a larger storehouse:
Then [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
Being rich toward God means pouring out gratitude towards Him and sharing our blessings with others.
It’s your turn to not only give practically, but also to take up the prayer burdens of others who are weak and discouraged. If you have a strong marriage, become a prayer partner with someone who’s marriage is floundering, or with a single person who has been waiting too long and feels like they’re fighting alone. If your kids are doing well, pray regularly for someone whose kids have gone astray. If you have money left over at the end of the month, buy some groceries for someone who never quite has enough and pray for more earning opportunities for them. If God has poured truth and revelation into you, encourage someone whose faith if faltering. If you’ve seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps. 27:13), mentor someone who feels like the heavens are brass.
Now is the time to encourage those laboring through winter, to reach down and help someone who doesn’t know if they can make it. This is not the time to judge someone going through a hard season; it is by God’s grace that you are doing well, not because of your superior intellect, perfect planning or pristine living. You’ve worked hard, but only because God enabled you to work hard and your life has born fruit because God chose to bless you. The only right response is humble gratitude and reaching out to those who, for whatever reason, aren’t experiencing the same sunshine.
We are to be conduits of blessing, not stagnant pools of abundance.
Of course, God calls us to give during every season, even during the painful days of winter. But during those times, our giving will be like the giving of the widow, who had only a mite to put in the offering plate. (Luke 12:41-44). When life is summer we give liberally, generously, not out of our poverty, but out of our emotional and spiritual wealth.
Summer months can be exhausting. We’re going to the beach and barbecues, staying up later, enjoying friends, exercising more and trying to enjoy every last drop of sunshine. Spiritual summers are exhausting too. We’re fielding phone calls and emails of friends who need prayer; we’re mentoring, teaching, juggling, and running to meetings. But there’s joy in the juggling. We’ve finally experienced breakthrough and we have the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual energy to labor with someone else until they receive a breakthrough, too.