Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:11-12 (NLT)
It is HOT! Have you noticed? Local and national weather people keep referring to a “heat dome” that is covering the United States. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is saying that 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record. WHEW! (It could be worse though – check out this weather forecast from a couple of years ago).
I’m not a hot-weather guy, (maybe because I have so much “natural” insulation). When the heat goes up my energy level drops and I tend to get lazy, watch too much TV and put off till tomorrow (or next week) things that needed to be done yesterday.
I’ve also noticed a correlation with my spiritual life – when I’m lazy physically, I often become lazy spiritually. Spending time with God and serving Him get “put off” or neglected, and my relationship with Him suffers. Someone, years ago, called it the “Summer Swoon.” Truthfully, it can happen anytime of the year, especially busy seasons and around the holidays, so we constantly need to be aware of the drain on our spiritual lives. Paul gives some great instruction and encouragement in Romans 12 –
1. Always keep a check on your spiritual “feelings” – Paul says, “never be lazy but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Being lazy is as much of an attitude as it is an action. We’re usually lazy because we don’t “feel like” being active. Feelings are real, but they should not be the driving force of our lives. Think about this, if you only worked when you felt like it, how much work would you get done? Likewise, if you only spend time with God and served the Lord when you feel like it, you’re probably not going to have much quality time with Him. You can control your feelings (attitude) instead of letting your feelings control you. Paul says serve the Lord “enthusiastically.” The word enthusiasm means “to be inspired or possessed of God (Theos).” Serve the Lord like a person possessed of God (the Holy Spirit) and your “feelings” will change.
2. Stay joyful, hopeful and patient – “Rejoice in our confident hope. be patient in trouble…” Paul writes this, not as a suggestion to ponder, but as an action to live out Choose to rejoice, to be joyful regardless of the weather or the circumstances you find yourself in. God has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 3:1, 4:4, James 1:2, etc.). And the foundation of our ability to do this is “our confident hope” – Jesus Christ. Keeping our focus on Him empowers us to be joyful, hopeful and patient in the hot days of life.
3. Keep on praying – This one is self-explanatory, keep the lines of communication open with the Lord. He is the “bread of life” that nourishes our souls and energizes our spirits. Keep in regular contact with Him. Corrie ten Boom was a Holocaust survivor. She and her family were Christians who helped Jews escape the Nazis until they were reported. She and her family were sent to Nazi concentration camps where they endured horrible conditions and treatment. In her adult life Corrie wrote several books about her experiences and offered encouragement to those going through suffering. One of her famous quotes from her writings offers great instruction: “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” Even in a concentration camp, Corrie kept her daily appointment with the Lord, and He sustained her.
I don’t think Summertime is anything like a concentration camp, so I don’t think there is any reason to neglect time with God and opportunities to serve Him just because it is hot. We can avoid the Summer Swoon!