Summer Greetings to you, my lovelies…
Somewhere mid-late May I sent the following text to a friend: Hey, girl…I’m strongly considering not doing our summer study this year. When you get a moment can we have a conversation about that?
I had already been having conversations in my head. Summer study was just around the corner. We’d done it every year since I can remember. Always rich. Always fruitful. Some seasons, a downright lifeline. It has become tradition. Several women from different area churches gathering together under one roof to study God’s Word. What could possibly be wrong with that?
Not a thing.
Only somehow this summer felt different. Plans were already underway and I had every intention of diving in, just as I’d always done. But, coming up for air after Spring travel, something inside said no. What about all those books you’ve been wanting to read, Cheri? They’re stacked here and there in little piles taunting me. A homework intensive Bible study wouldn’t leave much time for extra reading. What will they think if I bow out? I hate to disappoint. They’ll be counting on me. Will someone step up to fill my place? I had always helped facilitate in some way, whether leading small group discussion, setting up and tearing down, or closing out in prayer. Some wonderful friendships have been forged as well. A sweet camaraderie of Christian fellowship.
But, still, sitting this one out felt right. It’s as if God was writing me an excused absence from summer school. Saying no to this meant I could say yes to other things. I had already declined an invitation to the beach and another retreat this Fall. In seeking the Lord about these wonderful, who-in-their-right-mind-would-turn-it-down opportunities, I found it helpful to make a list. I needed to remind myself what I was saying yes to…
Yes to reading books/Bible
Yes to writing songs
Yes to blogging
Yes to booking gigs
Yes to building up my youtube channel
Yes to ministry prep
Yes to healthy eating and zumba
Yes to church fellowship
Yes to time with my daughter (my son lives out of town)
Yes to time with (wouldn’t you like to know?!)
A couple other specific yes-es and well, you get the idea. Likely you could create your own ‘yes list’ and gain a little clarity about your schedule as well. Not coincidentally, I just finished Susie Larson’s book, Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and Joy. Someone kindly sent me the book and DVD and I watched all six sessions in the comfort of my own living room. She admonished…
“When we’re sloppy with our yes, we miss out on God’s best.”
Looking up that word sloppy in my dictionary app, here’s what I found: sloppy means not careful or neat, showing a lack of care, attention, or effort. Hmm. Interesting.
Would I haphazardly plow ahead like I’d always done or would I listen to that still, small voice inside leading in a different direction? Would I seek to please man or please God? Would I cave to what Susie calls the ought-to’s and should-do’s, succumbing to “a busyness that drains vs. an abundance that trains”, or could I find freedom and relief in choosing God’s path for me? Even if it looked different than the norm?
I had made my decision. An email to the team was met with grace, understanding, even encouragement. A small act of obedience, yes. But, a tremendous sense of relief followed. Relief and, ultimately, peace.
Before closing, I must add this caveat…I wouldn’t normally advocate habitually skipping Bible study. Those who know me know I’m big. on. God’s. Word. And I love to study it with other women. Please don’t see this as an excuse to take a vacation from The Good Book. It may be that for you, for this summer, you absolutely need the accountability of an organized study to inspire consistent time in Scripture and grow in the faith. To ditch would be inadvisable, even foolish. But for me, for this summer anyway, I get to play hookie.
Someone once said, “The devil drives, the Shepherd leads.” We are His sheep uniquely equipped to hear His voice. What is He saying to you? Will you lean in toward that Holy Whisper?
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Other translations say my sheep recognize my voice or my sheep respond to my voice. Oh, how I want to respond to the voice of the One Who loves and leads me best. And give Him my best yes.
May it be as Paul writes in Philippians 2:13, God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
By God’s grace, I will.
Have a sweet and safe summer in the Son. I’ll get with you again soon.