Summer — of all the seasons, this one captivates my senses and draws me in like a comforting hug. I love that it’s a season of community where people come together for celebrations, sports events, graduations, weddings, picnics, festivals, and parades. Playgrounds buzz with the sights and sounds of children at play. Yet somehow, despite all this activity, summer is also a time for lazy days and relaxing. It’s a time for hammocks, porch rockers, lemonade, and a good book.
Summer is a time for long morning walks on the beach or just sitting with toes in the sand listening to the soothing surf and the cry of gulls. Summer is also the season of bounty, of fresh berries, melons, sun-ripened tomatoes, cherries, peaches, plums, and grapes. Science and medical data also show that the slower pace, relaxing vibes, and the extra vitamin D our bodies produce in summer increase serotonin levels, improving mental health.
At the same time, I’m keenly aware that sometimes the thing we love about summer — that glorious summer sunshine — can be oppressive and destructive. The very thing that beckons us to come outside can drive us back inside to escape. We can become irritable, short-tempered, and uncomfortable. The same season that improves mental health for one person can trigger a mental health crisis for another. When expectations are not fulfilled, when busy lives don’t allow time for rest, when fear or shame keep us from community, and when the stress of life is smothering, the added discomfort of heat and humidity can exacerbate our emotional and psychological responses.
As with many things in the natural world, we can draw striking parallels between what we observe and experience with the truths in God’s Word.
What truths can we learn from summer?
As a gardener, I’ve watched tiny seeds germinate and grow into lush, beautiful, and productive plants. I’ve also observed healthy, vibrant plants wither in a matter of hours under the unrelenting heat of summer sun, their shallow roots unable to locate adequate moisture. It’s the same season, the same sun, and the same plants, but vastly different outcomes. Whether the plants would thrive or die was determined by one thing — WATER. No matter how oppressive and unrelenting the summer heat, as long as the plants could obtain adequate water, they would flourish and produce fruit.
A similar dynamic can occur in our spiritual lives. After our rebirth through Christ, we go through seasons of spiritual growth, which should ultimately produce spiritual fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. During that period of growth, we inevitably encounter conditions that are the spiritual equivalent of drought and oppressive heat — conflicts, loneliness, fear, doubt, unanswered prayer, and unmet spiritual expectations. It’s a time when we need the living water of faith in Jesus, the only water that can quench our thirsty souls and restore our spiritual well being.
Plant roots are fascinating. They can sense the location of nearby water and can grow hundreds of feet to reach it. As long as they have energy, those roots will keep growing, sometimes through rock and hardened soil, until they find life-giving water. The Shepherd’s Tree has roots that will grow over 200 feet deep to reach water, enabling it to survive the harshest desert conditions. A plant needs deep roots to thrive in times of drought, and we need deep spiritual roots to endure times of difficulty.
Like a plant’s root system seeking water, we must pursue continual growth, always searching for more and more of Jesus, developing our faith in Christ through the knowledge, wisdom, and counsel in God’s word.
It is not a passive longing for refreshment but an active and focused endeavor that comes from an inner thirst that only more of our Saviour will quench. It looks like fervent prayer and daily meditation on God’s Word. A strong and well-developed faith in Jesus will sustain us through life’s most challenging and oppressive seasons and energize us to bear good spiritual fruit.
So, as we enter into the summer season, let us listen closely to the wisdom of our God:
“This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.” Jeremiah 17: 5-6 (NLT)
But we have Reason to Hope because…
“… blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7-8 (NLT)
- Are you in a season of peace and contentment or a season of oppression and difficulty?
- What can you do to grow your roots deeper into the living water of Jesus?