Here we are – Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. After today, we turn toward fall and start making the downward trod into structure, routine, cooler days and fuller schedules. I’ll be honest, before this summer I was never a big fan of the season. Living in Texas, you tend to hotfoot it from the a/c of your home to the a/c of your car to the a/c of your office and back again as quick as you can. “IT’S HOT!” is what you think as you gingerly touch the blazing steering wheel. “WHY?!” is what you cry when you start sweating while blow-drying your hair. But something has shifted this year.
Maybe it’s because Texas has had it easy when it comes to triple-digit days. Maybe it’s because I tried peaches for the first time (I know — how did I make it this far without them?), but something is going on. I finally get why summer is beloved as a wild and free season — no school, ice cream for dinner, vacations away and late bedtimes. It’s stretched-out days, less pressure, shorts and T-shirts. It’s wild and free in a way the other seasons can’t be. It feels a lot like a trip I took to Iceland last summer.
How do I even begin to describe the country to you? The land was impossibly green, the sky was unbelievably blue and the air was refreshingly cool. There were so many waterfalls I stopped counting. Fields were covered in purple lupine flowers. Around nearly every corner there was a vista with ocean on one side and mountains on the other. There was so much wide-open, untamed space it’s hard to believe a place like this actually exists in the same world as Fort Worth, Texas.
Staying in the capital of Reykjavik, we took day trips around the county. One day we traveled to the western peninsula called Snaefellsness that’s full of lava fields and grassy mountains. We visited a farm that makes fermented shark meat (a national delicacy) and petted Icelandic horses (a source of national pride). Another day we went to the south coast, hiking a glacier and visiting black-sand beaches with sneaker waves. As we drove into the town of Vik, literal walls of mountain towered over us on both sides with mist rolling down to the road— it felt like something out of Jurassic Park.
In a world so big, it struck me that this much epic beauty filled a tiny, far-away island that would fit inside Texas seven times over. It felt wild and free like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It felt like Psalm 19 had come to life: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”
At every turn God was showing me His glory, creativity and beauty. To me, this wild summer land was a testament to God’s fierceness and gentleness, to His might and love – none of which can be tamed by any earthly force. The land stirred up such a sense of wonder that it made me consider how this feeling of freedom could translate to my everyday life.
We’ve spent this summer walking through Galatians in our sermon series, “Bound to Be Free,” and talking about the freedom God wants us to live in. “For freedom Christ has set us free,” Paul writes in Galatians 5:1. We’ve learned that we can live that life of freedom by walking with the Spirit, listening for the Spirit, letting the Spirit lead us through each day. “If we live by the Spirit,” Paul continues in Galatians 5:25, “let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
It’s made me consider some of the people the Bible specifically mentions as being led by the Spirit — King David, John the Baptist and Jesus. Keeping in step with the Spirit doesn’t mean our lives will be easy or routine (take a look at any of the three mentioned above and you’ll know that’s not the case), but I think there is the promise of a fullness (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and freedom that can’t be matched by anything else on earth. I want that kind of freedom for my life and I want it for yours too. That’s a kind of freedom that’s not dictated by a season, situation or location.
Sure, summer holds incredible beauty in its full days of fun and late sunsets. It gives us a break from routine, it provides adventure beyond to-do lists and meeting schedules. It’s special and a gift from the Creator, but an entire life that’s marked by freedom with God? That’s what I really want. So as we turn toward fall, let’s keep that wild summer feeling with us, knowing that freedom is ours each and every day thanks to Jesus Christ.
Fall Bible Studies Start This Week!
Looking for a place to learn about God or add community to your life? Sign up for a fall Bible study! Band of Brothers, our men’s group, will be learning what it really means to live a godly life (spoiler: thanks to Jesus, you already have everything you need) in a study called “Sinner and Saint.” Women in the Word, our women’s group, will be talking about how to love others and walk with Jesus in our complicated, fast-paced world with a study called “Lavish Love.” Follow the links to sign up today.