Entering the summer season, nostalgia triggers that old song, “In the Good Old Summertime”; and George Gershwin’s song, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy; Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.”
Our senses tell us summer is here again when we see the sun set only just before bedtime, and those fields of rippling clover and rising corn; when we smell the freshly-mown grass, those shimmering beds of roses and daisies and dancing daffodils; when we hear the chirping of the crickets and the songbirds and the unrestrained laughter of school children in the streets.
Some of us are still savoring homemade ice cream on sliced peaches, and lemonade, and freshly-picked strawberries. Those tastes won’t go away. And we just want to climb a tree and dive daringly into a creek, or go swimming in the lake; or play our country cousins in an un-umpired game of Softball; or win a game of horseshoes against our Uncle George, who hated losing anything.
Shakespeare wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He highlighted “summers in a sea of glory!” He reckoned no tune to be as “sweet as summer.” Robert Browning observed, “Wanting is what? (It’s) summer.”
Jesus described how life for His followers would be watching for the sign that “summer is nigh!” What’s so entrancing about summer? Well, there’s summer sunshine. Noah’s flood over with, the Lord God pledged that “while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). The psalmist (Psalms 74:17) thanked God: “Thou hast set all the borders of the earth; thou hast made summer and winter.” Wisecracked Solomon, “As snow in summer … (so) honour is not seemly for a fool” (Proverbs 26:1). In contrast, Isaiah (Isaiah 28:4) figured that only a fool would eat “the first ripe fruit before the summer.” You see, snow and cold characterize winter; sunshine and ripe fruit, summer!
Shakespeare suggested we endure “December snow by thinking on fantastic summer.” Chaucer hailed, “Welcome, summer, with thy sun. (Thou didst) winter’s weather overtake.” Poet Emily Dickinson confessed, “When I count it all … the sun. the summer, then the heaven of God — and then the list is done.”
We believers on the Lord Jesus Christ will daily scan our skies to see the Son “of righteousness rise with healing in His wings.” Ever and always we’re looking for Jesus. Look to the Son and the shadows of life will all fall behind. Former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Wilbur Chapman told of his friend who so loved the sunshine that he built his house with three huge windows: one facing east from the kitchen, where he’d eat breakfast; one to the south, where he’d eat lunch; and one to the west, where he’d eat dinner. He revelled in the sunshine.
E. Stanley Jones, that great Methodist, would often tell of two newly born-again college girls. Exclaimed one, “I’ve swallowed sunshine”; and the other, “I’ve got a big smile down inside!” Peter, James and John would never be the same again, after on the mountaintop beholding Jesus transfigured before them in resplendent celestial light. And what turned Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle was a midday encounter with Christ the Light, whose Sonshine that noonday made the sun in the sky fade into a flicker in comparison.
Secondly, we yearn year round for summertime because summer means the suspension of the routine for summer holidays. It’s cutting loose; it’s breakaway time. School’s out! It’s time for getting out of the concrete jungles and skyscrapers or the solitude of the farm to the camp meeting, the cottage, to tour the Rockies, the Appalachians or the Ozarks; to sail or fish or water-ski the lakes where we can whoop it up with trumped-up ecstasy.
It’s time for the circus to come to town, complete with clowns; or to pile two deep into the family station wagon and head for the fair, or the Sunday school picnic. Down goes the blood pressure, and freely flows the adrenalin as the big family get-together gathers. And the teens can show off their muscles to their fast-growing, gangly, if barely recognizable, cousins.
Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 16:9) described how, “Heshbon and Elealah (were) shouting (for) summer.” Amos (Amos 3:15) put it even more dramatically, “Smite the winter house with the summer house.” In Judges 3:24 King Eglon would make his getaway annually from his palace to his “summer chamber.”
Wasn’t it Alfred Noyes who counseled, “Go down to Kew in lilac time (and) wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland.” And Shakespeare fancied Romeo romancing Juliet: “This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.”
Believers in Christ need to heed Jesus’ invitation, “Come apart and rest awhile.” If we don’t we’ll come apart, period! Make this a summer when you go to a Bible camp, a Christian conference, a Billy Graham Crusade, or just somewhere you meet believers for spiritual R. and R. You’ll return to the routine refreshed.
Regrettably, summer for most spells succumbing. Temptation looms largest during summer. Ghettos heat up and explode in violence. For millions in suburbia, it’s time to shift into the fast lane, and become a high roller. That’s the scene in William Faulkner’s “The Long Hot Summer.” It’s what was featured in the film “Summer of ’42,” a prone teenage boy being seduced by a sensuous older woman. I suspect it was summer when King David succumbed at sunset to the bathing beauty Bathsheba. A year later, his conscience screaming over his adultery and murder, he cries, “(In my guilt, God) day and night Thy hand (has been) heavy upon me. (It’s been like) the drought of summer (so) I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. (Ah, God, how) blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven.”
No mortal or computer can count the number of lives that jump in summertime onto the skids of eventual ruin with that first fornication or adultery; that first smoke, drink, or drug trip; that first crime to get quick money to feed a devastating habit. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:32) warned, “The spoiler is fallen” on its victim in “summer.” Micah 7:2 that in one “summer … the good man is perished (from) the earth and there is none upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.” “Fowls,” sirened Isaiah 18:6, “summer upon them.”
One of the fowlers of our day is booze. The beer companies in their commercials showcase high-spirited parties in which barely clad guys and dolls jump from hang-gliders to water skis, to speedboats, to docks, to tall glasses of sparkling ale! It looks so idyllic! They don’t tell you that booze is our number three killer behind heart disease and cancer. Even in pre-Civil War days, Emily Dickinson was lamenting poetically, “Inebriate am I and Debauchee; Reeling through endless summer days, From vines of molten blue.”
So we’d better say that summer is a time for summer surrender to Jesus! One of the millions who turned to Christ through Billy Graham was Jim Vaus. He testifies that when Jesus knocked on the door of his crime-hardened heart, it was a case of “total invasion (by the Lord, whose terms were) unconditional surrender.”
“Sweet Surrender” is not only the title of John Denver’s song! It is what you do to invite Jesus Christ into your life. Then only can you sing that rousing old chorus, “It is summertime in my heart; it is summertime in my heart; When Jesus saved me, new life He gave me; When it’s wintertime, it’s summer in my heart.”
Proverbs 6:6-9 asks, “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? Consider the ant and be wise. (It prepares) in the summer.” Jeremiah 8:20 cautioned that if you don’t, you’ll end up doomed — forever lamenting, “The harvest is past; the summer is ended and we are not saved.”
Puritan John Milton prayed for the return of “the vernal bloom or summer’s rose.” But “Paradise Restored” passes most people by. In tragic sadness Edna St. Vincent Millay wailed, “I only know that summer sang in me a little while; (but) in me summer sings no more.” Solemnized Shakespeare, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date. But the eternal summer shall not fade.”
Which leads us to our final point, that there’s not only Summer Sunshine, Summer Suspension, Summer Succumbing and Summer Surrender, there’s summer summit. The heads of the leading nine Western nations hold an annual summit. The future summit which really counts is that to which Jesus referred when “all … the earth … shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh” (Matthew 24:30-32), “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:31).
Jesus said that when terminal war threatened to exterminate man, when famine, earthquakes, plagues — like AIDS — wickedness and antichrists became ubiquitous, believers were to “lift up your heads and look, for your redemption draweth nigh.” Eternal summertime is the Christian’s future.
It was such a contrast to that outspoken unbeliever Mark Twain. Yet Twain, too, went to the graveyard with a deceased loved one. It was in burying his darling daughter Olivia that he mourned in placing the epitaph, “Warm summer sun, shine kindly here; Warm southern wind, blow softly here; Green sod, lie light, good night, dear heart.” Mark Twain had the sentimental poetry of genius; but no hope — of which we read — because he was a Christ rejecter.
I ask you, you who now feel that inner summertime, spiritually to make your decision for Christ. Will you pray without delay this prayer with me? It’s the prayer prescribed by Jesus, and He assured that the one who prayed it entered into everlasting life. You pray, after me, “God be merciful to me a sinner; and receive me now for Christ’s sake.”

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