If one were asked, “What is the growing season in Montana?”, one would say the months of May, June, July, & August. It is during these months that the trees are leaved out, porches become colorful with flowers, and fenced plots grow full & tall with a variety of vegetables.
Unfortunately, what is happening in Creation during the summer months in Montana is often not what is happening in the souls of God’s people in Montana. Very often, the summer months are the months in which people grow the least and struggle the most. The resolutions from New Years have faded. The weather is nice. Hobbies are calling like never before! Sundays seem more like an extra play day than a Sabbath day to worship God.
Let me give this illustration. Currently, I have a beautiful apple tree in my yard that is vibrant in color as it is covered with white blossoms. It is beautiful! But, if I uproot that tree, put it on a flatbed truck and take it to Disneyland, Yellowstone, Mt. St. Helens, and Flathead Lake, it would slowly die. Sure, it would get to see a lot of great places, but because it is separated from it’s source of food and water, it would be slowly dying, despite “having so much fun”. The same is true for the Christian. If you uproot the Christian from the source of spiritual life, they will spiritually wither, regardless of how many exciting things they are doing. What is the source of spiritual life for the Christian? The Bible lists three things: The Triune God, His Word, and His people. Therefore, if one is going to grow, instead of wither through the summer months, the believer must remain grounded in these three areas.
Now, the big question is, “How do you do this so you can grow instead of wither?” What follows are five things to consider so you can spiritually grow this summer.
The first is to make realistic goals. For most, there is a drastic schedule change. You are likely going to be out longer and later. You are going to do some traveling. Kids are out of school so routine changes. Therefore, you need to have expectations that are grounded in reality. Otherwise, you will get discouraged & give up. That being said, you should make some goals. At the end of the summer, what do you want to have accomplished? What would you like to be able to look back on? Is there a specific area you would like to study? Don’t go into the summer without planning!
The second is to take advantage of new opportunities that summer brings! The days are longer, which if you plan well, can afford a wider variety of times to be with the Lord. You can walk and pray early in the morning, sit outside with a cup of coffee and your Bible, or read your Bible on your porch before going to bed. The summer months also provide new opportunities for the intentional family. Moms have times with their children they don’t have during the other months of the year. Don’t waste it! Moms, what can you do to help your children grow in the Lord this summer? Is there a book of the Bible you can read together before you do the morning dishes? Dads, consider all the new opportunities to lead your family in family devotions! There are typically less scheduled things for evenings, so take advantage of this! Also, don’t let being out and about hinder you from reading the Bible and praying with your children! Out for a hike in the woods? Take a break and read from the Bible and discuss it while you rest. As you go into the summer, think of things to do that will foster spiritual growth.
The third is to seek to grow in your biblical knowledge in a specific area this summer. One of the reasons Christians flounder so much during the summer is because they go into the summer hoping to be able to read their Bible, but they do not seek to learn something specific. If you have something specific in mind you want to learn over the summer, it will drastically improve your odds of growing. Here are some ideas: Study the book of John with the intent to learn more about Christ. Read and outline the Minor Prophets. Seek to understand the era of the Kings through reading I Samuel-II Chronicles. Determine to understand better who God is by reading Isaiah carefully and taking notes. Grow in wisdom principles by reading Proverbs & choosing 2-3 to write down each week for memorization. At the end of the summer months, you would have 24-36 Proverbs memorized.
The fourth is to live in relationships with others. Try to have a family over once a week or twice a month to build relationships. Go on a simple hike with someone & be determined to talk about more than the weather and summer plans. Seek to be involved in one another’s lives through service, especially with your children. Go on a camping trip with a family in church, maybe even a family you don’t know very well! Finally, don’t miss church! One of the reasons people struggle so much is they are so busy going here and there, they rarely make it to church. Many families miss church much more than they realize! Not only do we need to be in church for our spiritual health, we are commanded to (Hebrews 10:24-25). If you are on a vacation, still go to church! Don’t slip into a mentality that you need to take a vacation from God! As you think strategically about the summer, gauge carefully how much you miss church, just as you would gauge carefully about missing meals!
The final thing to consider to grow through the summer instead of withering is to be determined to grow. Establish biblical priorities and don’t back down from them. Think carefully about how you are arranging your days, especially your weekends. Continually ask the Lord to keep you growing and pursue the means of growth. Establish a routine and settle into it. Finally, have a friend or a spouse hold you accountable on a weekly basis to being in God’s Word.
The summer months are wonderful months in Montana! Let’s enjoy them! As we go into the summer and think about growing, let us remember Psalm 1: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither. And whatever he does shall prosper.”