For many of us, summer is a welcome change of pace or environment. What is your summer situation? Home on semester break? Still on campus for summer semester as an undergrad or for ongoing research as a grad student? Studying abroad? Working a summer job? Any vacation plans? Summer can be a gift, but it also can present some temptations, like taking a little vacation from God.
Of course, none of us are planning this, but somehow, in the summer we can find ourselves taking a little de facto spiritual break.
We don’t enjoy the support of our campus fellowship. We easily fall out of our devotional rhythm. We miss our weekly small group or prayer partner. Perhaps we find ourselves in an environment that offers little reinforcement for our faith or, worse, presents inducements to ignore God.
So my admonition is straightforward: don’t take a vacation from God!
In Acts 17, we read how the apostle Paul went through an intense period of missionary work that ended when he had to flee public controversy and mob violence in the cities of Thessalonica and Berea. His companions escorted him to Athens and left him there to lay low. How easy it would have been to take a break, to throttle back in his spiritual zeal during this unexpected detour from the planned itinerary. He was in an unfamiliar place and removed from his supportive community. But that’s not how he played it.
You can read how Paul responded to his dislocation in Acts 7:10-33. He chose to pay attention to his environment and the people around him. He kept his heart attuned to God and spiritual reality. He engaged people in conversation about culture and faith, both in the synagogue and in the marketplace. And, amazingly, he found himself with a unique public platform to present the intriguing news about Jesus. No spiritual vacation for Paul.
What about you? Where will you find yourself this summer? Who will be around you? What opportunities will show up right in front of you? And how might God be present to grow you and work through you if you remain present to him?
Three simple encouragements:
- Set a pattern for your spiritual life—for when you will spend time in scripture and prayer, for where you will worship, for what you will read to feed your mind. Jesus taught that it’s when we are abiding in him that we prove most fruitful.
- Find a fellow Christian to connect with—for encouragement and accountability, whether in person or virtually. Jesus modeled the importance of this by pairing his disciples up whenever he sent them out on missionary assignments.
- Stay alert to God’s orchestration—of the good work he gives you to do (through your job, your studies, your volunteer activities), of the people he places around you, of the opportunities to show the love of God and to speak of your faith. Jesus said we will be salt and light when our good work(s) point toward God our Father.
I pray that, like Paul in Athens, you will be surprised at the doors God opens for you this summer and, in staying closely connected to him, that you grow like crazy. Because you can be sure of this: God will not be on vacation!