Summer break from the school year is here now. Students have before them a pretty good number of weeks to fill with activities of their choosing (for the most part). So, what to do? Have some good, wholesome fun hanging out with friends? Not a bad idea. Read a book because I want to rather than because I am told by a teacher that I have to? A welcome change. Do a little extra academic study in the subjects I struggled most with this past school year? Or maybe I am not tuned in to reality here…Sleep in past 6:00 on a weekday morning for once? A near certainty, and 6:00 could safely be replaced by what hour of the day, do you think (and notice that I did not say what hour of the morning)?
As a school teacher, I get to face the same question at the outset of a summer break. What am I to do with my time? Relax? Sleep in? Do outdoor projects around the home? Take classes online? Write on the blog? Watch movies with the kids? The possibilities keep going.
But here is a question. Have you ever come to the end of a period fo free time, be it a summer break or a vacation or anything else, and been disappointed and discouraged as you look back and see how little you accomplished during it? I know I have. Sometimes I feel that I have let a golden opportunity slip through my hands without seizing it for what it could have been. That can almost plunge me into depression at times.
I want to be able to look back at the end of this summer and be satisfied with the way I spent my time. It is a precious gift, this thing time. We only have so much of it. Once it is gone, we cannot get it back. When we have the prospect of it before us, we should really think about how we are going to use it. Let’s use it wisely.
And just how would that be, then? There are so many worthwhile things. In fact, everything I have mentioned in this post so far is something that can be worthwhile. But we also know that if all we do the whole summer is sleep in and hang out with friends, we probably will not have spent it wisely enough.
When I think about what really matters, what I really hope to accomplish with my summer (and with my life in general, for that matter), I so often return to this one basic parameter: People are what really matter. What do I want to accomplish this summer? What do I want to do with my life? I want to do something that results in a positive impact in the lives of other people. And I want that impact to be eternal, not short-lived. If I can see that my time has resulted in changed lives of other people, then my time has not been a waste. That truly matters in the final count. I could pursue so many interests, but surely it must be my great interest to affect the lives of people around me. That is worth so much more than any mere accomplishment that you might name, that I might boast of.
Get in shape this summer? Sounds good (and I hope to do so), but what does that matter compared with helping someone learn about maturity, hard work, and honesty? Write some poems? I love to write, but do I write only for myself, or to help open someone’s eyes to see the beauty and glory of God who is life itself? Grow an orchard of apple trees? Now that sounds like fun to me, but what are apples compared to the precious and immeasurable worth of human souls that need tending and cared for?
Are you thinking about what to do this summer, or, just the same but yet more, what to do with your life? Think first about the lives of other people. Don’t choose based upon how much “fun” you want to have or anything so superficial as making money or anything of the sort. Will those and like things be part of the picture? Of course; they are part of life. But ask the bigger question; have a bigger plan: How can I spend my life in a way that will make a true difference in this world? And the answer to that will always revolve around making an impact in the lives of other people. Spend your life helping others. Find out how you can do that. Then your life will not be spent for empty nothings.