It’s hard to believe we are already heading into the traditional months of summer, yet here we are! As a singer, I can’t help but think of the song “Summertime” when we reach this time of the year, though I’m not always sure we can all say the livin’ is easy. Regardless of what actual season we are in, we have seasons to our lives as well. Sometimes those seasons bring great times of abundance, and sometimes the seasons bring times of want/need. In spite of this reality, we actually can live above our circumstances or in spite of our “seasons.”
Summertime is traditionally viewed as a time filled with fun and relaxation. The daylight lasts longer, people take vacations, kids are out of school and there is an abundance of activities in which we can engage and enjoy. Aside from the heat in some places, there’s not much to keep us from doing anything we want. Wintertime, on the other hand, often prevents us from feeling quite as free to enjoy life. The weather is cold or wet, and it gets dark early so there’s less time for being outside, even if you can stand the elements. Life is much the same way. When the “weather” of life’s circumstances turns dark and cold, we have a choice in how we react to it. We can bundle up and trudge out into it, determined to get where we are going, or we can snuggle up inside our homes and ride out the storm. What we do NOT need to do is run out into the elements without any protection! As children of God, we have the ability to lay back and rest in His arms and trust Him to take care of us no matter how the circumstances may appear. He is our protection and has promised to work everything out for our good. Sometimes the winters of our lives exist to help us reduce the frenetic pace of our lives and slow down. In the “winter” of life, we are faced with difficulties that remind us our true power lies in letting go of our need to control everything. Winter takes us down, sometimes against our will, but it sets the stage for the eventual summer that is just around the corner.
Summer is, in fact, a wonderful time for most people. I actually prefer the dreariness of storms and winter, but I love the longer days of summer and all that comes with them. That being said, just because summer is here doesn’t guarantee the “livin’ is easy.” When things are going well in our lives, we tend to be happier, more peaceful and even more content. We are quick to praise God for His blessings and our faith seems to be stronger than ever, but as time goes on it becomes easier and easier to forget that all we have is a blessing from our Heavenly Father. We start relying on our own abilities and strengths and even forfeit our time with God because we feel less and less need for Him. After all, things are going great, right? I don’t say this to pass judgment but to point out that we are ALL human and we ALL fall into these same patterns as believers. And when we reach the point where we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3), we will quickly find ourselves in the midst of another storm that brings us back to our knees.
Like the apostle Paul, we need to learn how to live in times of plenty and abundance just as much (or even more so) than living in times of need. In our times of need, we cling to God. We refocus our priorities and get back to what is important. We simplify our world as much as possible because we don’t have much of a choice. Times of need have a tendency to bring us back to our true center much more than times of plenty. In times of abundance, our human nature is to become complacent and comfortable. We rely on our own self-sufficiency and lean less and less on God. We are blessed with material gain but that gain soon becomes the reason we don’t have time to spend in study and prayer with the One who created us. There is nothing wrong with material gain and it is not bad to abound! God WANTS us to have a truly abundant life but that abundance comes through our faith and trust in Him and not in ourselves. It comes in the peace and joy of knowing God is in control and is working everything out for our good, whether our circumstances seem “good” or “bad” to us. If we can learn, like the apostle Paul, how to be constant and stable whether in times of plenty or of need, THAT is when our lives become filled with abundance.
The actual season of summer is upon us and I pray it is a beautiful time for everyone. But more than that, I pray it becomes a reminder that just because the sun is shining, doesn’t mean we should forget the storms we have weathered or the “winter” storms those around us may be trudging through. Let us open our hearts and allow the summertime to remind us that even when the livin’ seems easy, the difficulties and pain our Heavenly Father endured for us to enjoy the warmth of the good times in life, cost Him more than we can comprehend.