Summer Intimacy.

Meditate on His word.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 'I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. " - John 15:4-5 NIV

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The summer is full of wonder, and mostly time. Long days, warm nights, twinkling stars, and golden sunsets call summer its natural home. During the season of beauty and awakening, an abundance of God's words freely flow like fireflies in the night, waiting for someone to notice and capture the magnificence. If you look, the Lord is painted within every character of summer, as her breeze dries the sweat on your brows. It's a beautiful time to be with God and to wait with Him for the promise of fall to come.
 
It can feel exciting to have this special type of freedom, but the solidarity of the few months can also provoke anxiety for the very same reason. Structure has the potential to be small, alone time makes itself more certain frequently, and purpose/calling/mission of your life can feel temporary or at a distance.

 Of course, this can all depend on where you are or what God has called you to this season. For some, the summer can be full of adventure in a foreign place or it can be full of adventure right where you have been for a long time.
 
Either still and slow or from one adventure to the next, summer is a season of waiting and anticipation. And it requires full surrender.

In my experience, this summer has been slow. So slow, I am almost wishing fall would come sooner. It's okay that I am honest about the way I feel toward this season, but I know I need the rest. It’s painful for someone that is used to running about 100 mph with a full schedule for most of her life. Last time I was in a period of stillness, it didn’t go so well for me. However, I knew before entering, the Lord was calling me to rest in a way I never had before. It's the beginning of July, and I am finally learning to love where I am.
 
The acceptance of this season, and seasons in my past, has given me peace only by wholeheartedly handing my need to control and understand everything to the Lord. It is truly incredible the amount of heart work and revelation I have gained through this simple and continual act of dying to myself.

To be honest, I spend most seasons with Him intimately through surrender to my flesh and obedience to His Spirit. I need to do this most in seasons that are still and slow, because my mind tends to wonder, anxiety increases, and then I begin fill my schedule with useless addictions. This tends to happen when am running ahead of Him.
 
 For me, the surrender looks like choosing to be connected to Him every day despite my fears, doubts, and uncertainty about the future. I intentionally seek Him when I first wake up, and ask Him to create my day. I ask Him to be Lord over how I react to my day reflecting the essence of everything that is Him. Intentionally asking Him to be Lord doesn't happen everyday, if I am honest. Sometimes, I rant about what is on my mind or rush into reading scripture without asking Him to reveal Himself through the words. I want Him to be Lord, so I am more frequently trying to avoid projecting every emotion or religious tendencies on Him without asking His love to be present first. The first gaze upon His eyes affects everything.

After I know that my spirit is connecting with Him, I read His word or do something with Him that is on my heart or feels "right." Sometimes, I have gut intuitions that lead me to what we are supposed to do together and sometimes it's hard to be obedient. This is a part of being disciplined in my faith. What I find over and over again, each time I surrender to His leading, the time spent with Him is always amazing and exactly what I needed.
 
Most of the time, He gives me freedom to choose however I want to spend time with Him. Remember, He called us friends… not slaves.

This summer I am taking the mornings to create spiritual discipline, reading through the Old Testament and New Testament in a parallel form. I have more time in the mornings, so this gives me space to really dissect what I am reading and experience Him through accounts of the beginning of creation, Joseph, Moses and Jesus/His disciples at the same time. It has actually been really fun, and sometimes difficult too.

Throughout the day, I try to stay connected to Him all the time. I am always talking to Him in my mind, asking Him questions, inviting Him to lead me, and asking Him to awaken me to His kingdom everywhere I go. Talking to Him without ceasing has been a quite process throughout my life. Even now, sometimes I find myself complaining or questioning rather than letting Him speak to me or show me His faithfulness in my life and in life surrounding me.

 I also stay connected with Him by having worship music playing or silence (allowing conversation with Him) whenever I am in the car or in the house. I find that it purifies my thoughts, or turns into a song of prayer. I'll often speak to Him about other people. My friends, family, issues I care about, and ministries are often on my mind. When hopelessness or concern about them enters, I immediately cast all of my cares on Him. Again, this has been a process and more often than not, it takes me a second to remember not to dwell on what is on my mind but talk to God about them. I find myself shifting atmospheres quite a bit, too. So, whenever I am driving around Athens, running on campus, or completing errands, I am always praying-- releasing hope, joy, love, and revival in those places.
 
During this season I am trying to stay connected to community and spiritual guides as best as I can. In other seasons, those two things can be automatic, but in seasons of transition or isolation, it takes effort to choose to be vulnerable and held accountable with the family God has given me in Athens. This summer, I have been intentionally surrounding myself among trustworthy friends and I meet with my spiritual mother at least once a week. Every time, I experience the Lord with them as I surrender to the treasures of the Lord I hold and the treasures they have for me, even when it is difficult to be vulnerable or trust.

In the evenings, I go on runs with God or sometimes walks, and I ask Him to be so present I can feel His touch. I often see Him in creation with little ways He knows I receive Him. I enjoy the sunsets or the night full of stars most, so those are often the times that are the most intimate for us.
 
 I also love to do things with Him like sitting at Jit Joes in Five Points with an iced coffee and a mind full of revelation or contemplation and my laptop. In these moments, I like to write what I am feeling or pieces of revelation to give other people! Other times, I look through my old journals full of prophetic words and encounters with Him from seasons past. He reminds me of His faithfulness and beauty throughout my life.

Believe my words and experience. It is possible to be intimate in the Lord with everything you do… I even go hit softballs off the tee sometimes with Him!
 
 In the process of allowing yourself to surrender to His intimacy in everything, do things together you love, be obedient to the things you don't love, and let Him speak more than you do.

 Ask Him to reveal Himself in everything that you are seeing -- people, places, His creation, etc. Go to a coffee shop. Hike on nearby trails. Have a date with Him. Consume His word with your Spirit. Listen to worship music and praise Him in every environment. Pursue intimate relationship friends and intentionally ask them about their relationship with the Lord. Be vulnerable. Be challenged. Run or dance. Find Him in books, in movies, in sporting events. Speak with Him wherever you go. Invite Him into your dreams. Surround yourself in love, peace, and joy. Be healthy with Him. Cook with Him. Eat with Him. Live this season unselfishly surrendered to the journey He is unfolding, whether steady rain, vibrant sun, cool air, dry wind, or intense storm.

 He is Immanuel- God with us. He isn't going anywhere, and it is always perfect timing to get to know him… no matter the season.

Author | Emily Helton

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