Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beware the "Summer Slump"

    Memorial Day is behind us and June will be here before most of you read this message.  After a winter that trapped us for weeks at a time, we’ve already had days hot enough to run the air conditioning and hide inside.  

So now what?

    Our children are thrilled that summer is finally here and that they will have a break from school.  Many of us share that feeling.  After being cooped up all winter we look forward to getting out and doing things.  Many of us will work in the garden, go for hikes in the park, walk the dog, go camping, attend outdoor concerts, or just sit on the porch and enjoy the day.

But beware of the “Summer  Slump.”

    With all that free time it’s easy to let things slide.  Our children are runners.  Good ones.  I’m not bragging.  I’m saying that all them could run circles around me during the best of my youth.

But they have all stumbled into the Summer Slump. 

    It’s easy to say, “I’ll run this afternoon when it’s not so hot” or “I’ll run tomorrow.”   And then suddenly, despite intending to run every day, they discovered that they hadn’t run for a month.  By the time they returned to practice, several of their fellow athletes had, through persistence, surpassed them.

Our spiritual life is no different. 

    Nearly every church in North America will face the Summer Slump.  This slump will affect us both personally and corporately.  Despite our best intentions to read the Bible, have a quiet time of prayer with God, and to grow spiritually, most of us will get busy with other things.  We’ll say, “I’ll do it this afternoon when it’s too hot outside,” or “I’ll do it in the morning” and then discover that it’s been weeks or months since we spent time with Jesus.  We promise ourselves that we will try to attend church at least twice a month, but get so busy enjoying the weather that we don’t. 

Your spiritual life is important.

    Most of us would agree, but we don’t act like it.  If I told you that I was so busy enjoying the weather that I had forgotten to eat during June and July, you would think that I was kidding, or seriously ill.  If I was so busy that I neglected to eat for weeks at a time, you would, correctly, worry about my health and well-being.

But spiritual food is just as important.

    When shepherds hear that members of their flock haven’t eaten in weeks or months, we worry about their health and well-being.  Poor nutrition makes us weak and vulnerable to illness, shallow thinking, and bad theology.  If your children said that they skipped school for weeks at a time you would fear for their education.  Your pastors have the same concern.  If we neglect our spiritual lives, how can we be healthy or grow?

    A healthy, balanced, spiritual life requires regular feeding, exercise, and education.  In our physical lives, none of those things happen without regular attention and deliberate care.  Staying healthy spiritually will require the same effort and attention.

As school ends and summer activities begin, I urge caution. 

Stay healthy.

Beware the Summer Slump.

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