Sometimes we’ve got to be outside our normal routine in order to see and experience, in a new way, something that was always there.
For example, when I was in college I lived in a rented apartment on a beautiful farm in central New Jersey. Being a typical college student, I was not really into waking up early in the morning… so I rarely did. After two years of the college routine, waking up mid-morning and rushing off into the day’s tasks, I graduated and got a job that… yep, you guessed it… I had to wake up at the crack of dawn.
My first week outside of the old routine and settling into the new one I made the most amazing discovery: sunrises are beautiful! Especially sunrises over the fields and forests of the farm that I lived on! I began to make time to enjoy these quiet and beautiful mornings along with my cup of coffee and my dog.
In the Christian faith we learn that God is always and everywhere present in our lives and the world. John Wesley, the founder of our Methodist heritage, called this God’s prevenient grace. Sometimes, however, we get into the routine of just looking for God in the familiar places… like Sunday morning church or during prayer and Bible study. When in the middle of a summer full of vacations and visiting family and friends, we may find ourselves out of the Sunday morning church routine… and feeling like we are absent from God.
NOT SO! God is with us wherever we go. Check out Psalm 139:1-14
1O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”
12even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
This summer, let’s take some time to discover God’s powerful and beautiful presence right where we are. Here are some suggestions:
1) Summer for many of us means trips to outdoor locations (beaches, lakes, mountains, forests, etc.). Take a few moments to quietly and single-mindedly experience the creative beauty of these places and thanking God for them.
2) Summer often means blockbuster movies at the theater. After experiencing one of these… gather with friends or family (fellow moviegoers) and discuss the story in terms of its major themes (good vs evil, love, life and character development) and then draw connections between the message of the movie and the message of our Christian faith.
3) Summer is a time for family activity. Take a few minutes, around a meal, in the car, at a campfire and discuss faith: God’s love, following Jesus, serving others.
4) Schedule a family service project: go to the local food bank, animal shelter, non-profit agency, or church and do some good works as a family.
5) Summertime is a popular time for different Christian concerts and festivals. Especially here in NJ, we have Ocean Grove which is host to many talented artists and speakers. Make a family outing to one of these… and experience inspiring words and music.
Let’s enjoy the summer and embrace the opportunity to discover God in new and exciting ways in our lives and world.