My neighbor just caught me off-guard. She told me she’s looking forward to a cool-down tonight. “What!,” I thought to myself. Her air-conditioner was broken.
For all the downsides of living in a big midwest city like ours, the late spring and summers here are hard to beat. It’s a reason why we stay here. We see our neighbors again. We can grill out more. There are all kinds of local festivals and block parties. Some of us can now afford to let some vitamin D onto our pale skin.
But when the weather gets warm, we feel freer and less confined. Praise God! Let me offer five suggestions for how we can enjoy this summer together:
- Get out more. Move around. With no ice or snow, take some walks. Push yourself out as the sunlight stays longer. Lack of mobility is one of the reasons we bring on health troubles. Dig out the tennies and put them by your door. Recruit an old or new friend to go with you.
Plan picnics. Chicago isn’t dubbed “city in a garden” for nothing. There’s still a lot of green space here in the concrete jungle. Welles, Hamlin and Horner Parks are all great for this. And if you want to, feel free to use the church lawn or turf. Some bread and slices of lunch meat will do the trick. Invite some new people and/or old friends to eat with you.
Read a book. Stream less. And so, after baking in the sun and watching it set, set your mind to read this summer. Sounds hard, right? Sure. But some hard things are worth doing and taking the small steps to do them. We all have the same hours everyday. Choose a manageable goal. Let me encourage you to visit our library cart in Fellowship Hall for some ideas that are sure to strengthen your mind and heart. Maybe ask a fellow member or two to read with you this summer. You’re more likely to succeed and enjoy reading when you do it together.
- Guard your heart. The theologian of Marvel, Spiderman, once said: “With great freedom comes great responsibility.” That is true. But, the writer of Proverbs told his children: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23). Jesus’ disciples never get a pass on this no matter the seasonal changes. Here are some encouragements to vigilance this summer:
- Prayer: you expected this one. Capitalize on the change of pace and lengthier days to set aside time to pray privately. Instead of condemning and shaking your head at the increased violence of our city, cry out to God in prayer. Call a sister or brother in the church every couple of weeks just to pray.
- Guard your gaze (and your garments): Our eyes take in so many images. We can’t unsee anything. But we can turn our eyes. Every year the weather warms up in Chicago, I can hear my Dad’s voice when I was a teenager rifling off in his unique tone: “It’s summer. Everyone’s clothes are coming off.” Or something like that. Sure that was an exaggerated way to encourage me in being mindful of how others were dressed and where I looked. We can’t help what other people wear (or don’t; especially in the warmer weather), but we can choose to lessen the chances of ungodly gawking by giving some thought to a God-honoring modesty and not merely what pleases yourself, is appealing, comfortable, or in style. And the reverse is true, we can’t control how people look at us. Don’t hear me as insinuating fashion-backward or frumpy clothing choices. It’s a whole “other” topic to address, but let’s remember that clothing came about as a result of the fall. Dress appropriately for the occasion and how it would honor God. Consult a wise Christian when in doubt; not Vogue or GQ magazines.
- Don’t neglect our gatherings. Unfortunately, I’ve seen summertime church attendance as a box to check with minimal attendance as satisfactory or worse, as optional. Take your vacations; enjoy all your vacation time. Have fun. See you when we get back. But if you’re not careful, you will find that there are more things “going on” in Chicagoland that can tempt you away from gathering for corporate worship and prayer. For the sake of your own soul, those in your care, and the other saints who benefit from your gathering with them, push against the darkness of selfish hedonism with the light that comes from an unflinching commitment to the Lord’s Day and prayer gatherings.
So, when the weather gets warm, get out, enjoy it, and take some people with you, but keep vigilant over your heart and attend to the Lord’s Day and be ruthless in prioritizing prayer.
“For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NET).