“Mom, he is stealing my cool sand,” one of my children griped about the other. Even in my annoyance, I could not help but laugh at the sad statement. We were sitting on a wide strip of beach that stretched for miles, yet my children were literally arguing about a small patch of shaded sand.
Our Summer has officially begun. While this means a break from lunch-packing and homework-doing, it also means a break from the schedules that provide space and sanity to our school-year lives. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about lazy mornings, lemonade stands, and lawn games. However, I also know that the Summer has a way of magnifying not only sunshine but also chances to see our sin, individually and as a collective unit.
Summer has a way of melting me, both literally and figuratively. We don’t have AC, so unless I sit myself right next to my best friend, the tower fan, I become a sweaty, short-tempered, stinky version of myself. This outward reality betrays a scary inner reality during the Summer. The Summer has a way of melting my carefully-built ice sculptures of feigned control, leaving me in puddles of fear and anxiety. Wide open days overwhelm me.
While it is tempting to look for refreshment in vacations or exciting day trips, the Lord has to continually remind me of a very unexpected, always available fountain of refreshment: repentance.
Sure, we will have some fun trips, but my summer rest and refreshment are not dependent upon a float down a lazy river or a night in a hotel. They are found in the midst of or on the other side of repentance.
In the sermon that the once-hiding, now heralding Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, Peter invited his audience to a paradoxical truth.
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord..” (Acts 3:19).
Long before Peter preached that first sermon, God had already been inviting His people, Israel (through the prophet Isaiah) into rest through the similarly strange gate of repentance and returning to Him.
“In repentance and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15.
Repentance needs to be repeated more often that beach towels need to be washed and sand swept in our house over the summer. Just today, which is a mere 1 1/2 days into Summer break for us, I plopped myself down for my Sabbath time in an irritated funk.
Thankfully, before I fumed too long, the Spirit reminded of Peter’s paradoxical invitation. Repent to rest. Repent to be refreshed.
I repent of looking for refreshment in coffee or cold pools.
I repent of jealousy as I see and hear other’s vacation plans.
I repent of trying to put my confidence in plans or control.
I repent of expecting my children to be what I myself cannot me: perfect.
I repent of looking into the coming weeks with fear rather than faith.
I admit my inability to navigate long days on my own. Rather than looking to self for Summer, I look to my un-shockable Savior. And suddenly, I can see Summer for what it is: a chance to see myself, my boys and my Savior.
Sure, Summer may melt my attempts at control. But, there, in a puddle, I learn to be present with them through Him. A puddle of presence that draws on His power. I can manage that.
We have Monopoly to play, mountains to hike, and mornings to stretch out. We have been given all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). When we get turned around and twisted into ourselves, we need only repent and return to a Good Father who provided the path for this refreshing routine.
In light of these realities, let the Summer begin.