FIRST-PERSON: Trusting God in the Good Times
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)--If the earth's axis were not tilted 23 degrees 27 minutes away from a line perpendicular to the plane of the earth's rotation around the sun, there would be no seasons on our planet.
When the earth tilts toward the sun, it's summer. When tilted away, winter. Spring and fall are transitional seasons which separate winter and summer. If the earth's axis were perfectly vertical, we would only have one season all year long.
Living on the equator, you miss the dazzling colors of fall, a cozy fire in winter, a garden in spring, the beach in summer. Many folks love the seasons' variety -- especially the summer season!
Summer is America's favorite season -- homemade ice cream, a tan, sandals, cooking out, the beach, summer camp, long days, short nights and the kids welcome NO SCHOOL!
From September to May, the average family's life revolves around the children's school activities. So summer has become a breathing space for needed "R&R&R&R&R" -- Rest, Relaxation, Recreation, Reflection, and Refurbishment -- in the form of vacations, yard work, house repair, family time, winding down from a frenetic pace.
While summer is a season, it's also a state of mind. We go through periods in life which are summer -- like when life is just plain good. We don't always plan the arrival of summer seasons or know when they may leave, but everyone experiences periods of prosperity and goodness. Calendar summers, as well as the summers of our spiritual lives, raise a question for Christians: Where does our focus go during the good times of life?
When experiencing sickness, financial pressure, rocky relationships, and other anxieties, we focus on God, never letting Him out of our sight as we cry out for relief. But, what does it mean to walk by faith in the good times, the summers of our spiritual life? It's easy to lose our normal focus from June through August. But, do we face the same temptation -- spiritually speaking -- when, as the sultry song says, "Summertime, and the living is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high."
-- Summertime Distinctives.
How do I know when I'm in a spiritual summer season? Like the calendar summer season, we get contented and subtly find ourselves thinking more about the blessings than the "Blesser" -- enjoying the gifts more than the Giver.
-- Summertime Distractions.
During the school year, life revolves around clocks and calendars. But in the summer, we often break those disciplined routines and become distracted. In the spiritual summer seasons of life, when we find ourselves with extra money, our thoughts may become materialistic. Good health can lead to carelessness about diet and exercise. There is no crisis, and there is a temptation to ignore devotional time. Things that make summer seasons enjoyable can also become big distractions.
-- Summertime Dangers.
God warns of danger when we live in the blessing of God. "Beware ... Do not forget the Lord ... when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them ... and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up" (Deuteronomy 8:11-14). The greatest danger in the summertime season of life is forgetting who is responsible for the good life we are enjoying.
-- Summertime Directives.
What evidence should we look for in a Christian to determine if he is still walking by faith during the good times in life, still focused on God? Scripture points to one compelling attitude: gratitude for the blessings of God. "When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:10).
If you are in a summer season of life right now -- a time when things are going well and going your way -- is there evidence that you are continuing to walk by faith? Let thanksgiving to God be on your lips for every good and perfect gift which has come down from above (James 1:17). Remember the 23 degree tilt -- there is no such thing as an endless summer, literally or spiritually. So stay close and stay grateful to God in the summer seasons of life.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and chancellor of San Diego Christian College (formerly Christian Heritage College). For more information on Turning Point, go to www.TurningPointOnline.org.