How will you spend your summer?

by Mark McDonald

Summer break.

For some, the words “summer break” bring a strong sense of excitement. It can mean entire days of rest and relaxation. For others, it means more to juggle: summer camps, improvised childcare and extra yard work. For all of us, summer includes more sunshine, more outdoor activities and warmer weather to enjoy.

Summer is a time that represents — at least in theory — the promise of better days. Summer in the 501 can be great because we have ample lakes, wonderful state and national parks and holiday getaways. We plan vacations, enroll our children in summer camps like Vacation Bible School and look forward to more time to relax and have fun.  

Summer also reminds us of something very important to people of faith: rest and renewal.

Virtually every world religion has a tenet that reminds us to take time to rest and renew ourselves spiritually. Some focus on Friday, some Saturday, some Sunday, and all remind us about the requirement of daily rest. Our bodies are built on cycles of rest, and we all know what happens when we ignore that.

We break down, lose focus and often fill the void with worry and anxiety. When we ignore our need for rest and spiritual renewal, we can end up facing sickness and disease.

So, summer is important, but it’s not supposed to be our only break. In Judeo-Christian scriptures, we learn about this “break” through one of the 10 Commandments. The Sabbath is a holy day, which is set aside for rest and worship. Every seven days, we need to reset. Every seven years, the scriptures teach us to make radical changes to reset lives: forgiving debts and resting the land from crops. This seven-year rest is where the concept of sabbatical comes from.

Furthermore, after seven “sabbatical years,” on the 50th year, we are to continue another year with even greater renewal: land is returned for former owners and slaves are freed! Talk about renewal!

Perhaps one of the greatest examples is more of an everyday challenge. Jesus not only went to the temple every Sabbath to study and teach, but he also took daily time to pray, study and serve others. He regularly took time away from his ministry to be alone, pray and renew himself to his mission.

What will you do on your summer break? Will you send the children to Vacation Bible School or other summer church camps? Will you take a vacation to get some rest and relaxation? Could it be part of an even greater change in your life — to move into the natural cycle of rest and renewal that is spiritual as much as it is physical?

We live in a beautiful area that affords us so many ways to enjoy the summer. Let’s use it to start something new: a regular pattern of rest and spiritual renewal! Don’t just take a break, make a change! It will be a change that makes us healthier in all the ways that truly matter to our heart, soul, mind and strength!