June has been a very busy month, not a bad month but a very busy one. I seem to run from one meeting to another or one youth event to another, and in the midst of it all I’ve moved house and have a sea of school and nursery end of term events to fit in. I do not think it is just me; everyone I seem to meet has been having the same experience. Roll on the summer holidays that is what I say. I need a good break.
Bearing in mind I write this as the heavens open outside my window and I give serious consideration turning on my central heating! Summer may not always be a sunny time, but it is definitely a time to adopt a different rhythm to life. I hope that it is going to be a lot slower. At the very least, it definitely seems that the summer months allow for more time as the normal rotas and rhythm of life change.
However, what will we do with that time? As someone who has worked in and around churches for many years, it can actually feel that the extra time is filled up with missions, holiday clubs, and camps. They are often really significant, fun and fruitful times. However, it can sometimes mean that come the start of September normal life starts up again and there has not really been much rest or reflection.
I have been in a couple of meetings with church leaders recently where the conversation has moved to the same sort of theme. It goes something like this. ‘If I started again and all I had was a sense of God calling me to something, a bible and the people with me. What would it all look like?’ ‘Would it look like my life just now? Busy, programme-driven and full of energy-draining activity or would it look altogether more exciting, vibrant and fruitful?
In the message translation of the bible, Eugene Peterson writes this paraphrasing Matthew 11:28-30
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
It’s a beautiful translation full of brilliant ideas like; ‘recover your life’, ‘real rest’, ‘work with me’, ‘unforced rhythms of grace’, nothing ‘heavy’ or ‘ill-fitting’ and ‘live freely and lightly’. We all want lives like this. Don’t we?
What an amazing invitation from Jesus. I wonder if in the summer months when we all have a bit more free time and opportunity if we may all benefit from taking up this invitation. What if our book at the side of the pool was a bible? What if our walks in the warm summer evenings were times of prayerful dialogue between you and God? What if sitting in the garden or at a beach, we began to ‘learn the unforced rhythms of grace?’ What if summer time was a time of intimate connection between you and God?
The verses preceding this passage give an insight into intimacy. Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks for the intimate relationship he enjoys with His dad. He then extends the prayer to include us. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Through Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit, we have access to the Father. Jesus reveals to us that we can come into the very presence of God.
There is no other way to describe this but outrageous. Outrageously good that is! Because of Jesus we have an invitation to spend time being refreshed in the presence of God. What if we all took up this invitation? What would it look like if this summer we ‘hung out’ more with God and learned how to ‘live freely and lightly?’