Homemade ice cream, soothing lemonade, freshly-picked strawberries and picnics in the park. It’s got to be the taste of summer!
As we enter the summer season, nostalgia triggers that 1960s number one hit written and performed by the band Mungo Jerry “In the summertime when the weather is fine” where it celebrates the carefree days of summer. And what was it George Gershwin wrote in his famous song? Oh yes that’s it, “Summer time and the livin’ is easy; fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.”
Somehow our senses seem to tell us that summer is here again when we see the sun set only just before bedtime, and when the fields sizzle with heat; when we smell the freshly-mown grass, those shimmering beds of roses and daisies and dancing flowers. When we anticipate a holiday break, down goes the blood pressure, and freely flows the adrenalin as “the big family get-together” gathers. When we hear the chirping of the crickets and the songbirds and the unrestrained laughter of school children in the streets – schools out! Oh yes, it’s all a part of the taste and feel of summer.
When Shakespeare wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” He highlighted “summers in a sea of glory!” He reckoned “no tune was as sweet as summer.” Robert Browning observed, “Wanting is what? (It’s) summer!”
Deb Caletti in her novel, “Honey, Baby, Sweetheart” writes “Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen… Summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
“I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket” writes Kellie Elmore.
There is one other quote about summer that I particularly like. It’s by John Lubbock from his book “The Use Of Life.” “Rest” he says “is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
Who can deny it – rest is good for you and summer time is a great time to rest – not just physically but in God as well. What is better than feeling the warmth of the Christ’s love and resting in Him. I once read about a young woman who had recently given her life to Christ, she described it as “experiencing the joy of summertime deep down” – she went on to describe it in a lovely way, “it feels like I’ve swallowed sunshine” she said. What a lovely turn of phrase!
For many it felt like this when they first gave their hearts to Christ, but sadly over the years the rigours and sometimes-dark clouds of life have somewhat dampened their first love and that joyous feeling of Godly sunshine. Somewhere along the line that ‘you know what I can’t explain it feeling deep down in their hearts’ has dwindled away. They feel weary, heavy-laden and don’t seem to have the joy anymore. A feeling of spiritual dryness overwhelms them. There’s just no sense of freshness in their spirit anymore.
So what are we to do if we find ourselves in this state? Well, we would do well to heed Jesus’ invitation found in Mark’s Gospel in chapter 6 verse 31, where he instructs us to “Come apart and rest awhile.” What He was saying was this, set some time aside just to be with Him. Time to walk with Him and talk with Him – time for Him to refresh, strengthen and reinvigorate your heart.
Edward Henry Bickersteth speaks about this very thing in a hymn he wrote way back in 1875. Just take note of these wise words. The hymn is entitled, “Come, ye yourselves apart and rest awhile”.
Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile,
weary, I know it, of the press and throng;
wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
and in my quiet strength again be strong.
Come ye aside from all the world holds dear,
for converse which the world has ever known,
alone with me and with my Father here,
with me and with my Father, not alone.
Come ye and rest: the journey is too great,
and ye will faint beside the way and sink;
the Bread of life is here for you to eat,
and here for you the Wine of love to drink.
Then, fresh from converse with your Lord, return
and work till daylight softens into even:
the brief hours are not lost in which ye learn
more of your Master and his rest in heaven.
In Mark 6, on returning from their ministry trip, “the apostles gathered themselves together with Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said unto them, ‘Come yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile’ for there were many comings and goings, and they had no time so much as to eat.”
The disciples came to Jesus and told Him all things. Their intimate relationship with Him encouraged them to lay before Him their favourable and unfavourable experiences, their joy at seeing results from their labours, and their sorrow at their failures, their faults, and their weaknesses. They had committed errors in their first work as evangelists, and as they frankly told Jesus of their experiences, He saw that they needed much instruction. He saw, too, that they had become weary in their labours, and that they needed to rest. They needed to have their internal batteries recharged. Jesus knew this was never going to happen in the hustle and bustle and grime of the day. They needed to come apart. Jesus knew, coming apart to rest awhile prevented people from coming apart in their lives. It worked in Jesus day and nothing has changed – coming apart and resting awhile still works today.
It can’t go unnoticed that God Himself rested after six days of assembling the universe. He also knew that time to kick back was important for the people He created, therefore God instituted the Sabbath so that we would get the point that no one can work without a break along the way. Without a time for spending with Him.
Tanks that run on “weary” all the time soon lack the stamina to do well spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and relationally. Even Jesus, with more sermons to preach, more people to heal, and more tasks to accomplish for His Father, often went apart to rest a while.
I am not sure why it is that some of us feel guilty or unfulfilled if we are not busy all the time. It’s important to realise that not everything needs to be done – at least not done right now. It may be more important to sit back with a tall glass of iced coke and contemplate the beauty of nature and the greatness of our God who is as faithful to us as the dependability of the seasons. As the hymn says, in “summer and winter and springtime and harvest . . . join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”
So, during this summer make sure you carve out a little easy livin’ time as George Gershwin puts it and refresh your heart and spirit with blessedness instead of busyness. Why not make it a priority to find some time for “coming apart to rest awhile.” Go on – you know it makes sense! And don’t worry; the chores will still be there. They aren’t going anywhere!
So enjoy the taste of summer and savour every moment – it will soon be over!