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Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (Pt.7)

Images Season #3 - Summer 

In many ways, most summers are marked by long, hot, tedious days. Many people endure summer but do not enjoy it. It is easy to simply mark time, walking through one long day to the next, seeking relief and relaxing during the holidays. For the farmer, summer is a season for watering the seeds that have been planted and for fertilising. Growth begins to take place. Feedback and evaluation are essential, along with appropriate adjustments. Weeds and pests need attention too. 

This applies directly to our personal lives. No dream is achieved without a long hot summer of hard work and maximum effort.

Summer is the time to really put in the work. Work has no substitute. It is the prime ingredient for success and God’s blessing. Summer is the time for working not watching, doing not dozing.

God is a worker! He worked for six days (on His creation project), then rested from his work on the seventh day (Gen.2:2-3). God created man to work. After all, we were created in His image. Work is not a part of the curse! Before the fall, humans were to tend and keep the garden God had made, as well as name the animals (Gen. 2:5,15, 20). After the fall, humans were  to continue to work the ground but with the added curse of thorns and thistles, as well as the sweat of human effort (Gen. 3:19,23). Work can bring frustration apart from God and His purpose (see Ecc.4:4). The Old Testament praises hard work, while it condemns and ridicules laziness. Daily hard work leads to long-term profit (1 Thess. 4:11-12. 2 Thess. 3:6-14). Work is part of our God-given purpose - doing some useful task or being involved in a profitable occupation.

Summer is also a time for evaluation. A good farmer monitors his field. What does it need? How is it growing? Are predators or harmful insects invading? Are the plants healthy? When should I water next? What fertiliser will help?

Fruitfulness requires receiving feedback along the way, monitoring our progress and then making necessary adjustments. Consider what is going right and what is going wrong. Take stock of where you are. Consider a regular retreat day or time aside for reflection. Don’t be discouraged by the mid-term results. Don’t be impatient. Don’t have expectations that are too high or unrealistic. Value progress.

Get external feedback too – from other people. Talk to people who will be objective and honest. Jesus gave the disciples feedback - he encouraged them when they did things well and he confronted them when they were wrong (in their actions, attitudes or focus). Admonition, advice, correction, rebuke are essential for training to take place. Criticism is not always an indication that someone doesn't love you but that they care enough to let you know how you could improve.

Summer is also a time for enduring. There can be obstacles. Storms can be violent. Summer heat can be unbearable. Difficult times come our way from time to time – sickness, accidents, death of loved ones. The only person with no obstacles and no problems is in the cemetery. History is full of people who overcame huge obstacles to do something significant with their life. 

We also need to learn to overcome failure. Failure can often be a result of a mistake we make – of judgment or decision. Facing failure successfully is one of the most important lessons we can learn during the summer season. The key is to learn from our mistakes, not repeat them, and then move forward. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm!”

Summer is also a time to overcome discouragement. Be patient and wait for your crop to grow. You can’t choose the day or the time when it will sprout or bloom but it will, if you just hang in there. Hold your ground when you’d rather run away. Persevere. Keep a smile on your face when you’d rather cave in. Work hard when you’d rather give up. Instant success is a myth. What you sow, you will reap IF you don’t give up!!  

Gal.6:9. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. NIV

James 5:7-8. Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. NIV 

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