"My Summer Vacation."
As children, that was the predictable composition assignment we'd get each fall when we got back to school. I filled paragraphs with great memories. Then as parents, my wife and I had sort of a "mission statement" for our vacations - "Making memories!"
Of course, not all summer memories are something people would like to write about. Because there are memories we wish we could forget.
I've witnessed it over and over again: people just aren't the same in September as they were in June. Summer changes people. Not always for the better. Some regrettable things happen in the summer. In part, because there's someone who doesn't take a vacation.
Our spiritual enemy. The Devil, according to the Bible, "prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). So we're warned to be "sober minded and alert."
But summer's when we tend to relax...set aside our routines - and the disciplines that go with them. Our enemy loves summer because he can exploit our laid-back carelessness to wreck a life, a family, a reputation. Temptation thrives in the summer soil of anonymity, unstructured time and exposed skin.
It's important not to forget - no matter how "easy" summer is - the calculator is always running. Relentlessly adding up the cost of our choices, even if no one knows what we're doing. The camera of God catches it all. You will "reap what you sow" (Galatians 6:7).
A drifting ship is headed for disaster. So is a drifting summer. That's why it's important to decide whether you're going to waste your summer, spend your summer, or invest your summer. Keeping your hand on the rudder, knowing where you're going.
And if you belong to Jesus, you can be pretty sure that summer will leave you either closer to Jesus or farther from Him. Set no spiritual goals - you'll tend to drift away. Plan to capture the less structured days of summer, and you could love Him more than ever.
A summer to remember - and not to regret - needs a plan. Like these three steps that help guarantee a great and growing summer.
1. Have an intentional plan to know Jesus better by the end of this summer.
Set a non-negotiable time with Him. "Jesus, this is when and this is where I'll meet with You each day. And this is the book of the Bible I'm starting in."
Memorizing a verse a week. That step in itself can be transforming. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11).
2. Have an intentional plan to make a difference by the end of the summer.
Make it a "Go M.A.D." - go make a difference - summer. Like going on some neighborhood "spread the love" projects. Bake something, take something, help them with something.
And what a great time for a family to do a missions trip or service project together. If you can't go to another country, there are plenty of needs to tackle right in your own community.
3. Have an intentional plan to avoid your spiritual traps.
Our enemy will target our weaknesses this summer. Shouldn't we? If he's going to play offense, we need to play defense, avoiding the pitfalls we know bring us down. Job 31:1 is a good example of a "beat the devil" summer commitment: "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman."
You know what brings you down, the people who bring you down, the places where you get in trouble, the websites, the music, and the movies that feed your dark side. So avoid the ambushes.
Sin always takes you farther than you ever thought you would go, keeps you longer than you ever thought you would stay, and costs more than you ever thought you'd pay.
Summer. A special time to "number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). So when we unpack our summer, we won't find the baggage of regrets.
This blog is condensed from the e-book, “No Regrets Summer.” To download your free copy of the entire e-book, “No Regrets Summer,” visit hutchcraft.com/summer.