This Summer I’m Not Looking For Rest, I’m Looking For …

Just about this time every year, the school and church year come to an end and we breath a sigh of some relief and trade this question to one another, “So, what are you doing this summer?”

We say all sorts of things here, “We’re just hoping to get some rest but we are traveling a little. Later we are flying down to Florida” or “Headed up to Maine” or “We’re taking it easy this summer but we are remodeling the kitchen and my extended family is coming in July, then we are …” Slowly we realize, we’re not really going to find much rest and relaxation in these coming months.

As Susan and I survey our summer calendar, prepare for our vacation and day trips, talk about home projects and try to keep up with our 3 little ones, we already know there will not be much “rest” to be had here. And while running yourself ragged is certainly no virtue, I’m not sure rest is what we really want.

That’s why this summer we are seeking renewal. For most of us, summer is not really a slow time – it may offer a break from that crazy family/school/church schedule but for most, it’s not slow. For me, I’ll have fewer meetings and a couple of my  responsibilities will be suspended for two months which means I’ll have a few more days and evenings to schedule our own things.

BUT here’s what I don’t care about doing:
Cleaning My Office – Sounds like a great idea, but if I get to the end of the summer and the only thing I did was clean up my office that will likely be trashed by the middle of October, I’ll be in a state of loathing.

Tackling My Book List – I create book lists to give myself some urgency. I review books on my blog to keep me moving and maybe to encourage others to join a particular conversation but if I exhausted by book list, I’ll feel satisfied for about 10 minutes until I hear or see something else that I should have read and the cycle repeats.

Catching Up on my Netflix Queue and the Magazines in My Office and My Online/Offline “To Read Later Folders” – Same as the above and take a breath.  Didn’t Jesus say something like, What does it gain a man to watch everything in his queue and read everything on his coffee table but lose his soul?

Which leads me to how I think I’ll find a sense of renewal this summer:

Date Nights with Susan, family days and catching up with our friends – I tell you, this spring we actually made some progress here and it feels good and it’s going to get even better.

I am looking forward to going on vacation with the family –  I have a great feeling about this one. Will let you know it goes some time in July.

The Willow Creek Leadership Summit on Aug. 8-9- Our church is a host site but no, I have not been asked to promote this nor do those who hold me accountable read this blog. I can say whatever the … ;)  But the truth is I really am looking forward to the Summit because among many reasons, I am leading and I often feel inadequate and I fear I end up short-changing people and my responsibilities. Then sometimes I feel extremely amazing in my abilities (“Hybels should have me prese…”) am completely oblivious to the blindspots, then sometimes I find a balance and things like books, words and examples by others and things like the Summit help contribute to the goodness of it. It’s not magical but it is helpful and for me, it’s very accessible. If you are local, here’s the info. If you are not, find one near you.

Read/Writing/Reflecting – I know above I pushed back on this but honestly, I’m only trying to find some balance here. I love books because they contain thoughts, knowledge, ideas and innate so much perspective, action and conversation but these things can also be idolatrous (yep, including the books).  I’m keeping a modest reading list and some writing goals. I also want to reflect back on the lectures, events, and various other conversations I’ve been part of this year. So much goodness left to unpack.

And of course, I’d be remised to not mention the need for spiritual disciplines like prayer, Scripture, some solitude, and fasting (from food, maybe caffeine, definitely media). I don’t say that end to end on a spiritual note, I say this because our hungry souls need more than what this world can offer and those around us hunger for more than what we can offer. And so we need something transcendent, something greater, and we as Christ-followers can categorize this simply as “Whatever God has for us.” I do believe this is will illuminate the path to renewal this summer.

I’m sure all this will unfold differently as the summer moves on. There will be unexpected challenges and hopefully some welcomed surprises. All I know is it’s not really rest, I’m looking for – it’s renewal.

Likely it will be different for you than it is for me. Maybe you need to get out of your zip code, or maybe you need a stay-cation, maybe you need to catch up with your friends, maybe you need to rediscover the prayers of a previous season of life or find new ones. Whatever it is, may the Lord give you what you need this summer.

If you’re up for it, feel free to offer what you are most hoping for – In the meantime, thanks for reading.

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