These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6: 1-7 NIV
What are your plans for the summer? Some of you may be thinking, “Isn’t the point of summer to slow down and not have to plan so much?” For some parents this may be the only extended time you have with your kids. For others, summer can be complicated as children and grandchildren are out of school and you need to figure out how and where to keep them occupied, safe and amused for the next several weeks. Wait--before you stop reading because you think this does not apply to you, I ask you to keep reading; this might be the answer to a prayer you have been praying.
You have heard me say several times, “Every moment has meaning and mission, God does not waste time.” Summer comes with about 960 minutes of opportunity each day, if the average child sleeps eight hours a night, so how can you help to teach a child or several children how to enjoy a long life? The Scripture above tells us that living in God’s Word and will, and loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the key to enjoying long life, not just living a long life but enjoying long life. It also gives us the plan for impressing these into a child’s life; we simply make God a continual part of our everyday life. This does not mean you live in a perpetual state of Vacation Bible School in your living room, but it does means that we can and should teach children Colossians 2:6, “as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”
Enjoy summer “on purpose.” Start a family summertime list of activities you want to do and something new you want to learn or accomplish individually and together. Encourage doing something kind for a neighbor. Serve at a ministry or organization or help a neighbor with small children in need with yard or housework once a month, or with trips to the pool and other fun activities. As life happens, such as being afraid of swimming lessons or talking about stepping into high school, talk to them about their emotions – and then pray aloud with them so you teach them how to cast their cares on God because He cares for them. There will be many opportunities to take frustration, fear, disappointment, desires of their heart and more to prayer, if you listen carefully. Training up your child, grandchild, or other family member to be a prayer warrior early, will make them strong and courageous, and experience less stress and drama as their heart and mind grow steadfast in the Lord, and as they walk with Him and in Him all of their days. Every day bring opportunities to share (not preaching or lecturing) truth from the Bible that builds them up in who they are in Christ, and not what peer-pressure or bullies say. Leave them wanting to hear more and feeling confident and loved.
Being a blessing by serving someone else will build character and may even help them decide what they want to do as an adult.
For those of you who stayed with me and kept reading, perhaps you have been asking God to show you the plans He has for you at this season of life, and I know from reading many of your prayer requests that you have been concerned and praying about youth and young people. Please allow me to encourage you to prayerfully volunteer at your church for children and/or youth activities since there are many extra opportunities and activities in the summertime, and the regular teachers and volunteers usually want a break in the summer. This gives you the opportunity to start building a relationship with your younger brothers and sisters in Christ and to talk with them about life and Jesus. You can offer to become prayer partners with a Middle or High School student, hire them to work with a church supervisor at your home or workplace to earn money for a missions or church camp trip. Let your Youth Pastor know that if a student has an interest in your line of work that you would be willing to meet and talk with them or possibly have them visit your workplace, or if they qualify, possibly become a short-term intern. You must be very careful of course to always meet with another person present and choose prayer partners and mentees of the same gender. Be smart but do not let fear keep you from engaging and investing in the spiritual journey of others.
Will you join me in prayer now?
Heavenly Father, we come as your children and thank You for all that You have taught us about You, Your love, and the abundant life that is ours to live in You and through You. You have shown each of us so many things throughout our lives and we have lived in Your faithfulness. We have walked through trials and tears and celebrated triumphs. Please give us the courage and opportunity to share You with others; remind us of my youth and the things we felt and even feared and use us to help others be strong and courageous in You. Help us to remember that we have purpose throughout our life, to our last breath, no excuses, or exceptions. Help us to count our days and make our days count; to make the most of every moment. Help us to always be generous with our time, talent, and treasure and to be willing to be the heart, hands, and feet of Your love in every generation so we all enjoy long life. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Serving Him with Gladness,
President, National Day of Prayer Task Force