by Wanda Grimsley
Have you ever heard educators refer to something called the ‘Summer Slide’? This is where kids can lose as much as 3-4 months of academic material or acquired skills if over the summer they do not engage in activities that help them retain what they’ve learned. The result is when they return to school in the fall, the first several weeks are spent playing catch-up or trying to re-strengthen skills they should already have mastered during the previous grade.
I am that parent who supplements my children’s homework throughout the entire school year, so we are indeed working through the summer, utilizing various websites, workbooks, and academic camps. I am usually intentional and methodical about it and whenever I’m not and feel my kids are being lazy thinkers or are under-stimulated, I scramble to find anything that reinforces, challenges, or stretches them…it keeps them growing academically and reminds them that this is important.
Well, as women of faith, we have to guard against the summer slide, too! Some of us are not in small groups or Bible studies over the summer and attendance at church can be irregular, depending on our travels. This lack of accountability and fellowship can be a slippery slope (in addition to the chaos and leisure of summer) and can bring our spiritual growth to a screeching halt…that’s when it gets all messy. Thinking about that, I can see arms and legs flailing out of control on the old ‘Slip ‘n Slide’…remember the ‘Slip ‘n Slide’ we hooked up to the water hose and played on in the backyard as kids? Those things are back, $10 or so at Walmart, crazy fun! But that kind of unchecked slide is not so fun in our marriages, our relationships with our kids, our thinking, our words, our hearts and our ministries. I also remember the nasty mud puddles that would develop around the Slip ‘n Slide; the wet grass that ended up in my mouth and hair, and the bumblebees that always lurked around the edges of our slide for some reason…Messy! And sometimes painful!
Like our kids in their schoolwork, we too can lose ground, but this is spiritual ground. Far more dangerous a slide, we then find ourselves back in old habits or crazy cycles, in mud and mire. Nursing all the stings and bruises sin leaves us with, we end up revisiting lessons and retaking tests we thought we’d already mastered with the help of the Holy Spirit.
So wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, whether you’re a new believer or you’ve been walking with God for years, please know that our salvation does not mean we have fully arrived at that place God wants to take us to. He has so much more for us. Our walk with the Lord is just that, a continuous journey with God. It’s not something we acquire or accomplish once and then rest on our laurels. It’s God who does it anyway, but our part is surrendering the things that burden us and spending time with the Holy Spirit, over and over again. Lets avoid the Summer slide together!