Summer a perfect time to strengthen faith
It’s two weeks until the end of spring semester and as we slip in and out of consciousness — a symptom of chronic sleep deprivation — the only things that help us drudge through one more three-page paper are those pleasant daydreams of summer. Some of us are dreaming of days on the beach with our loving families, others of those warm, long, summer days spent playing ultimate Frisbee with our best friends, and still others of the smiling faces of the little kids we’ll play tag with on our mission trips. But one thing is for sure, after we fill in the final bubble to our last final, none of us will leave the room shouting, “I can’t wait to study my brains out this summer.” While I’m all for keeping your brain in your skull, I think it would be great if we were looking forward to some academic review this coming respite. But not just any study; perhaps we can use this precious time to study the Scriptures.
Students should seek to spiritually grow over summer
Check the word “summer” in most college students’ dictionaries and the definition is simple: a season to do no schoolwork or anything related to it. However, while this interim period is great to rest from the strain of academics, we as Christians should never stop seeking to learn about our heavenly Father and his word through intense study. Come May 27, all of us will have left the chapels and the Bible conferences to go home. Some of us, I’m sure, are anticipating that we will become spiritually dry. But this is not inevitable; there is a way to keep your candle lit and fan your flame, but you must plan. So here’s some advice for the summer to help you catch and stay on fire for Jesus.
Resolve to make some good time in your day to study the Scriptures in their social, political and historical context. Now I recognize that we’ve only got three months and 66 books in the Bible, so perhaps it’s best to use the tortoise strategy here and go slow and steady. A good friend of mine last year gave me advice that I found very helpful. He told me to pick three books of the Bible and to try my best to master them for the rest of my life. Of course, we should seek to know the whole Bible, but if we mastered a few important books in it, I know our faith would increase in droves. I recommend one gospel, one epistle and maybe one of the major prophets. However, that decision is up to you: I just exhort you to do your research and pick the books that most align with your calling.
Self-awareness key in continuing to strengthen faith
A lot of us would do well to do a study with the other people around us. As you’re studying, one of the first things you’ll learn is that Christianity cannot be done without community. The body of Christ has been and will always be just that — a body. Individual parts are important and vital to the life of our framework, but we are still one team. Besides, studying with other people is more fun anyway — it keeps you accountable and will give you insight that your own vision will limit. Plan a weekly or even semiweekly meeting, where you all pray and talk about what you’re learning from the word.
Evaluate your life and your direction by what you’re studying. Self-awareness is a crucial weapon that will enable you to fight the good fight. If you and the people around you use Scripture as a mirror, you will have developed a skill that will serve you well in the future. One of the first steps to growth is recognizing where you’re falling short. But don’t get too freaked out about all the problems you’ve got — we’ve all got more issues than we’d like to admit. Pray for the Lord’s guidance and pick a few things you believe God is calling you to work on — use the Scriptures to help you go about changing.
Start thinking creatively about what you want to do with your life. If read right, the Bible will always challenge you to dream big. God has a huge plan and we little humans have a part in it. The Scriptures have a way of not only changing the height of your dreams, but also the dimensions. Studying the Bible makes you think about the world with a completely different scope, yet still individually enough to help you make day-to-day decisions. The Scriptures strengthen your faith and you start believing in God for impossible dreams — yet they help you to be modest and content with a “quiet life.” So no matter what you’re doing this summer, I hope that you will, as Paul says in 1 Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a work-man who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”