The following post is taken talk given by one of our Associates, Alli Clear, at our Refresh Community for Spouses session earlier this month.
Summer holidays - time to get away and have a break from the busyness and business of life. I don’t know about you but trying to get away for a family holiday can be a logistical nightmare! Planning, packing, making lists of lists – and by the time the car is packed to the rafters with kids, bags, camping equipment, food, beach gear and so on, you’re exhausted and seriously question is it worth it!
You always go hoping that it will be a time of rest, refreshment, relaxation and recalibration so that you come back full of beans and recharged for the next season. It’s a time to reconnect as a family and build some precious memories. But the reality is things don’t always go as we hope. If I’m honest what I really longed for on those summer holidays was time out from everything! I certainly didn’t want to think about church or ministry for sure. But there were times when I came back physically just as tired, and instead of harnessing the time as a gift to replenish not only my body but my soul, I had failed to do that too.
Becoming more Christ-like is central to the Gospel and God works in us and through us, by the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in that transformation process. As Paul tells us we ‘are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) Transformation is at the heart of becoming more like Jesus.
In his book ‘Renovation of the heart,’ Dallas Willard reminds us that every human being has a spirit that is continually being shaped and formed, and that this influences our outlook on life, informs our choices and motivates our actions. He goes on to say:
‘The life we live out in our moments, hours, days and years wells up from hidden depths-what is in our heart matters more than anything else for who we become and what becomes of us.’
Or as someone recently said to us ‘the story you live in, is the story you live out.’
But some of the thoughts, attitudes and motivations that become part of our story, have been influenced by a world that denies God, often without us realising it. The good news is that if our spirits have been formed, they can also be transformed and that is the hope of the Gospel. The renewing of our mind through the power of the Holy Spirit, to become more Christ-like. How amazing!
We are called to partner with God in this transformation process (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3) and told that
‘Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did’.
1 John 2:6
So, if we want to do what Jesus did, we need to become more like him; to be transformed in our depths to see the world as he did; to love as he does. We can only do this by spending time with him, to learn from him as all apprentices do. We have to be with Jesus, to become like Jesus in order to do what Jesus did.
Over the summer, when church life is quieter, we have an opportunity to focus on our relationship with the Lord, dig deeper and be re-energised in our spiritual lives. If finding time to do this is a challenge in the normal busyness of life what better time to use to re stoke our faith-fire and refresh us for the next season?
In Romans 12:11 Paul says ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.’
Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message – ‘Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame.’
Keep your spiritual fervour/keep yourselves fuelled and aflame…
I wonder over this summer what you will do to refuel and refresh not just your body but your soul so that you are refuelled and aflame for the next season? So, I ask you this question on your journey of becoming more like Jesus…how do you draw close to God? What helps you to worship him and find intimacy with him?
Psalm 139 reminds us that we are unique individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made and 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that we are also uniquely gifted. It is no surprise therefore, to imagine that there are different ways for each of us to best express our love for God and be replenished on our spiritual journeys.
In his book ‘Sacred Pathways’, through his research of biblical characters, church history and understanding of personal temperaments, Gary Thomas identifies nine common sacred pathways or ways that we most naturally draw near to God. He illustrates that there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to how we love God and find refreshment for our souls. He suggests we usually have a combination of these spiritual temperaments but when we understand what these are, we can write a personal prescription, that will help us tend our souls most effectively on our personal journey of worship and discipleship. My sacred pathways may be different from yours but they all have the same end goal - to bring us into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father.
So, my encouragement for you, as you take time out this summer is to prayerfully consider what draws you into intimacy with the Lord, and to write your own personal discipleship prescription so that you can be refreshed and tend your soul in the best possible way for you; so that you can keep your spiritual fervour, refuelled and aflame for life and ministry in the coming months. Happy Holidays!
At Living Leadership we talk a lot about making sure to take a good, long break at some point in the year, and to have a sustainable rhythm of work and rest throughout the year.
During the summer we practise what we preach and take a break from much of our usual activities (including this blog) and give our staff opportunities to work at a different rhythm and to take long times off for refreshing.
So, this will be our last blog until September, but we wanted to leave you with our traditional prayer for the summer. Do join us to pray this for yourself and others in ministry:
You are the giver of every good gift and I am your finite creation and beloved child.
I receive the gift of days without work as a good gift from you.
Free me from false guilt and help me to make the most of this time.
May my “holiday” be a sequence of holy days, encountering and enjoying you.
In my “leave,” may I abandon burdens I was not made to carry, and rejoice in you and your creation.
In my “vacation,” help me to be unoccupied with work and its stresses.
In my “break,” fracture the grip of unhealthy attitudes and patterns in my life.
May my “days off” be unhurried days of delight in those closest to me.
Recreate in me a clean heart during this time.
Refashion my rhythms in tune with your heart.
Restore my joy in your salvation.
Renew a right spirit within me that honours you in rest and in work.
Refresh my love for you and others.
May I live each day without work, aware of your presence and alive by your Holy Spirit,
Through Jesus Christ, my Lord,