August 27, 2014 - "Where has the summer gone?" It seems like just yesterday that we couldn't wait for warm weather after such a tough winter.
Now we are starting school again and conversations have already turned to what kind of winter will we have this year. Life turns very quickly and summer seems so fleeting.
I have found that we sometimes try to pack so much fun and activity and relaxation into summer that it can work against actually experiencing these things. So perhaps we could ask another question…
"What are we going to do now/today?" I believe this question is a far more productive one that we can actually do something about, at least in part.
First, I believe that it is essential to build some "summer" into the rest of the year – some intentional time to rest and relax and play and spend precious moments with family and friends and God.
This is really the biblical concept of "Sabbath" time and it is designed to help us rest and refocus on God's good gifts to us in creation.
Sabbath "summer" time reminds us that we are not ultimately in charge and that everything comes to us as gift.
It's one way of saying that "God is God, and we're not!"
In addition, I also believe that the end of summer is a time to reflect on life's priorities just as "regular" activity resumes.
Some questions to consider include: Does life really have to be so frantic? What will I choose to do and what will I choose not do? Can I simplify my life and focus on what matters most? Will the people I love most really know how much I care? Will I get enough exercise or sleep? What new thing will I learn? How will I grow spiritually? Will I take time to serve and love others, such as with the My Habitat Clarkston build this fall? What will I generously give to? Will I take time for worship and prayer?
What a privilege we have to live every day as the gift that it is, no matter what the season.
And each day we have an opportunity to prioritize our days according to God's design and the values we hold.
One of my favorite Bible passages reminds me of the value of each and every day no matter what does or doesn't happen: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
So often we live in either the past with regret or the future with anxiety, rather than in the present with thanksgiving and joy.
Of course living in the day is not always an easy thing to do. Yet when I do, I experience more joy and peace. The Bible says that we should "Cast all your anxiety on (God), because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
I believe that God, in his amazing grace, wills to redeem our past (no matter what it holds) and to assure us about the future (no matter what it holds).
But most of all I think God wants to journey with us today, and for us to give our lives over to his control. I want to encourage you (and me) to make this our number one priority this fall.
The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church