In The Good Old Summertime

About the middle of June on a warm summer day, thousands of children wait with anticipation. They anxiously watch the slow ticking clock. Somewhere in the background, a teacher’s voice drones on and on. They do not hear the words as they wait expectantly for The moment to arrive. The moment when they will all experience the euphoria of “Summer Vacation.”

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. The “Valley” at that time was suburbia at its finest. The streets were safe and clean, the schools were safe, and there was no such thing as gang violence. Most of us had dads that worked and moms that were home. The “Valley” in the sixties was the hub of many a western movie, especially Roy Rodgers and Gene Autry. Life, as a child, was good, simple, and fun.

The day after school got out I would bug my mom to drive me to the local library. She usually dropped me off as I would spend hours searching for just he right books for my summer reading. I would check out 8 books each week (the maximum you were allowed to check out) and take them home. I would settle myself on my bed, or out in yard on a blanket if the house was too hot, and read to my heart’s content. When I finished my pile of books, I would return to the library and choose some more.

During my childhood, summer was play time. We would gather near the home of April Showers (that was her real name) and play baseball, dodge ball, and football. When it got too hot we would go to my house where my mom always had home-made Popsicles in the freezer made with a plastic Tupperware set and Kool-aid.

Once a week we were allowed to go to the local pool to swim for the afternoon. Admission was 25 cents which seemed like a lot of money to me then. Our pool had a high dive which was my favorite. I loved the excitement of jumping off that high tower and feeling the pit of your stomach lurch up into your throat. Once you came up for air though you always had to dig your swimsuit out of certain places but it was worth the “rush.”

Summer vacation seemed to last forever. Next to Christmas, it was the best time of the year. But September always came. Nine long months we had to wait until summer came again.

As good as summer was, it pales in comparison to what Heaven will be like for those who know Jesus. Revelation 21:2-4 talks about the New Jerusalem which is a picture of what Heaven eaven will be like.

“And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” Rev 21:2-4

The endless joys of summer vacation cannot compare to spending eternity with God and having the joy of living with Him. Hebrews 12 describes heaven as the “city of the living God,” where there are “thousands of angles in joyful assembly.”

Christian artists, MercyMe, have written a powerful song about the day we arrive in heaven.

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By Your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

We can only imagine what that day will be like. But I imagine that it will be an endless summer vacation in the presence of the living God!

The Greatest Mystery of All

Summer is here; the most anticipated time of year, next to Christmas! For some it means family vacations, trips to the beach and the lake, ice cream for dinner, or lazy days at home. For me summer has always meant summer reading! When I was in grade school I couldn’t wait for summer to arrive for it meant that I could spend my days reading endlessly (after my chores were done of course). I would spread a blanket outside under the big shade tree and devour the latest mystery I had borrowed from my local library. When I begin a new mystery I can hardly wait to get to the end of it so I can discover the answers to all the secrets.

There is one mystery that I have discovered though that continues to baffle and amaze me. It is found in the book of Colossians. Paul writes to the church at Colossi about a mystery which has been kept secret for generations. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:10-11 that even the prophets of old wondered about this mystery and wanted to know when this mystery would be revealed.

What is it?
This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Colossians 1:26-27 (NLT)

The mystery is first that the gospel message, the good news of salvation, is not just for the Jews only but also for the Gentiles. That’s most of us! And second, that the Creator of the Universe, the Son of God, the visible image of the invisible God, lives in us.

When we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He comes to live in us. And in Jesus lives the fullness of God. There is a popular movie out where one character is called “mini-me.” Mini-me is a mini version of the main character. Jesus is not a mini-God. He is all God. “For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ.” (Col. 1:19)

These concepts are so wonderful, so profound, that Peter says in the book of 1 Peter these are “things into which angels long to look.” Angels long to understand, know, and to experience this mystery. But it is a mystery preserved for you and me. Christ in you; the hope of glory.

I have a difficult time wrapping my brain around this. It is not just that Jesus lives in me, but that he would want to live in me. Somehow he guides me, directs me, and empowers me to do the things he has called me to do. Because of this mystery, I am able to experience the very presence of God, an experience most of the world is longing for.

Frederick Buechner says it better than I in his book the Magnificent Defeat.

“For what we need to know is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-today lives who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want, but the experience of God’s presence. And that is also I think the miracle that we really get.”

As I mediate on the fact that Christ lives in me and I live with Him, it causes me to be profoundly grateful. I am grateful for all I have, for all He has done for me, and grateful for the very breath of life He has given me. It also keeps me on my knees in humble adoration for the miracle and the mystery of Christ in me, the hope of glory.