Although we haven’t reached the actual calendar date of summer, and although, at least in the middle of Kansas, it doesn’t yet “feel” like summer, activities for the school year are winding down, graduation announcements are arriving, and vacation plans are being made all around us. Those are unmistakably the traditional signs of summer. Even more than that, because Easter Day came earlier than usual this year, we are already in the days after Pentecost. These days bring with them a natural desire for a change of pace and a break from the “normal” rhythm to our days. When this happens a little earlier than usual, as it has this year, it gives us more chance to think and pray about these opportunities than we might otherwise have. Our lives tend to be busy, so this is a true gift.
This is a time to dialogue with God—to speak with God about our lives, to give thanks for the elements we treasure, and to consider some areas in which we feel we might benefit from growth. An essential part of a dialogue, of course, once we have opened up a topic and expressed some of our own thoughts on it, is to listen. It can be challenging to listen to God, but I find it’s always worthwhile. (Although, truthfully, it may take a little while to perceive what God is truly saying in our lives and even longer to get to a perspective of new truth.)
Sometimes listening to God is something like going on a treasure hunt. Someone, for example, may say something that strikes us as a rather strange thing to say, and so we begin thinking along lines we might not have otherwise considered. The next thing we know we see an article that we probably wouldn’t have noticed if we hadn’t just been thinking about a similar subject, and that leads us on to something else, etc.
So the first “Question of Summer” might be, “Is there anything I want to do differently in the summer months this year from previous years?” See where your thoughts take you, and then turn them into a prayer that begins something like, “God, I was thinking…; please guide me.” Then watch and listen.
Sometimes listening to God is like having to mute the TV in order to hear what a family member is saying to you—even if you’re pretty involved in the television program and wish the other person would choose another time to tell you whatever it is that seems to need to be said just then. We’ve all heard the scriptures about God speaking in a small, still voice. Perhaps you remember how Elijah listened for God’s voice in the wind, and the earthquake, and the fire, only to finally hear it out of the silence. (I Kings: 19:11—12)
Another “Question of Summer” therefore seems to be, “How can I get a little quiet time built into my days?” This may be especially beneficial if this seems an almost impossible task. Surely in the summer, when things naturally change for a time, there is a way to make a little space for listening—listening first of all to God, while always remembering that one of God’s favorite ways to speak to us is through other people.
Your own questions will flow from these two questions, which seem to be fairly universal questions for people of all ages who find themselves in different sorts of circumstances. From the questions flow the answers, and from the answers flow an awareness of opportunities that might otherwise be missed.
My prayer for you is a summer of question-asking and answer-receiving that will offer many opportunities for a truly transformed life. The power of the gift of Pentecost lies in the transformation it has brought to each of us.