5 Verses for a Restful Summer
How can you not just love summer? The days are longer, the produce is fresh, the world is inviting you to come outside and explore. But perhaps one of the best things about summer is the expectation to rest. Children are out of school for a few months, college kids return home after exams, and most workers block off a week or two for vacation.
Even if you have a busy summer coming up, there’s just something about the heat and long days that forces us to slow down and rest a bit more. So whether you are planning an exotic trip overseas this summer, or a stay-cation exploring your own backyard, remember to take a minute to thank God for the good gift of rest. Grab a hammock, a good beach read, and a tall glass of lemonade, and take a break.
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1. Take a Break from Work
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:2-3).
Taking a few days off work and getting out of town is a great way to refresh yourself. But maybe you are in a place right now where you don’t have a job that offers paid time off, so a summer vacation is just not in the cards. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you can’t – and shouldn’t – still have a restful summer!
We as humans were made in the image of God, and rest from labor is important to Him. He shows us this in the verse above as He demonstrates the importance of rest. It’s important for us not only to rest physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
Rest, especially when you are working hard just to get by, also comes with a measure of trust in God. If you step back from your job, even for a day or two, do you believe that everything will fall apart? Or do you trust that God will take care of things? He cares for you. He won’t let everything topple if you take a quick, needed break.
Perhaps you can block out an afternoon on Saturday or Sunday to do some fun, summer activities. Take some of that time for a walk with God, to just chat with Him and spend time together. Whatever you do to relax, make sure it isn’t in any way related to what you do for work!
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2. Take a Break from Ministry Busyness
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31).
The context of this verse is just after Jesus sends His disciples out in pairs to preach and heal people. They are working hard, and preaching the name of Jesus far and wide – important stuff! But when they return to Jesus to report back, He notices that there are too many people around them seeking their attention. Jesus recognizes that His disciples need a break.
Summer can be a hectic time for those in ministry. Vacation Bible School, youth summer camp, community outreach programs – it seems like summer is the best time to reach people and bring them into the church with exciting programs. And these are all great ways to reach people and show them the love of Christ! But if you are running yourself ragged, then your ministry can only suffer.
If you are someone in ministry leadership, make sure that all of your people are getting the rest that they need. You may need to recruit more help, or even step back from great planned activities, if it means giving you workers that crucial time to rest and be restored. If you are a volunteer or ministry worker, make sure you aren’t overcommitting. When you need a break, take it.
If stepping back from ministry and resting was good enough for Jesus and His disciples, then it is good for us today too. No amount of coffee or staff donuts will provide the same refreshment as time of peace and rest will.
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3. Stop and Smell the Flowers
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).
Most all of us are familiar with these verses, but we often focus on the next line, which reminds us that God guides us even in the darkest valleys. But we cannot forget that God guides us to places of beauty and rest as well.
Summer is the best time of the year, in my opinion, to enjoy natural beauty. Many of us will head to beaches or mountains for vacation. If that’s your plan, then take a moment to ponder the God who created such precise, miraculous things as white sand beaches, giant Sequoia trees, rolling mountain ranges and pods of dolphins. Slowing down to take in this natural beauty is a unique sort of rest, because we are actively appreciating everything our good, creative Father has made. It fills our senses and soothes our souls.
If you don’t have the ability to travel somewhere, try taking a walk around your neighborhood and notice the things that are unique to summer, but show off God’s creativity and handiwork. Fresh cut green grass. Lingering sunlight after 9 PM. Glowing spiderwebs among the trees. (Just don’t walk through that last one.) I live in a small apartment, but every summer my balcony is covered in plants. The joy of picking tomatoes off my vine or watching the flowers bloom reminds me that God is in control of even the smallest things.
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4. Rest When Things Go Wrong
As much as I love summer, I am well aware that summer is crime season. Statistically, violent crimes are more likely to occur in warmer months. But aside from headline-making events, we still live in a world broken by sin, and even if you have plans for the perfect summer, something will go wrong.
The car will break down on the interstate. Someone will get sick or hurt. The AC will go out in the middle of a heatwave. Mosquitos (or cicadas) will swarm.
Jesus does not shy away from the fact that we will experience troubles in this world, both big and small. But that reality doesn’t make us hopeless. In fact, He tells us that we can still have peace – we can still be at rest – in difficult situations, because He has already overcome sin and death! Unexpected problems or difficulties don’t have to stop us from resting. We can still have supernatural peace in Christ.
When something goes wrong this summer, be it a sunburn or a much larger tragedy, take a deep breath and know that God is greater than whatever we are experiencing. You don't have to plaster on a smile and pretend that everything is ok, but go to Him with whatever emotions you are feeling, and be honest. Seek out the supernatural peace that only God can give us, and know that He will use these challenges for our good, and His glory.
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5. Enjoy Your Rest!
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).
We often hear this verse before taking communion, as a reminder of the good, life-giving sacrifice that Jesus made. But in context it’s a Psalm of David who is praising the goodness of God. As you take time this summer to rest – whether that’s through a vacation, time by the neighborhood pool, or a glass of iced tea on your front steps – remember that the Lord is good in all things. Every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17), and that includes the blessings that come with summer. He is the one who turns spring into summer, and summer into fall. He controls the rain and the sun, and brings everything about in its proper time.
And no matter where you live just about, summer means fresh produce. This season blesses our tastebuds with juicy peaches, vine-ripened tomatoes and pots full of herbs. When faced with such bounty, why not remember this verse literally? Take a trip to your local farmer’s market or grocery store, grab whatever is in season, and literally “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Maybe it’s difficult for you to enjoy your rest. You frequently get bogged down by work and responsibilities, or just stressed by the planning that comes along with summer events. I’d challenge you to remember this verse, and to take a calming breath when things feel hectic. God is good, all the time. And all the time? God is good. So do what you need to do to enjoy your time of rest to the fullest!
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Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study Tools.com and the design editor for Crosscards.com. She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.