Thoughts from the summer vac
Beth Jones gives some helpful advice on staying close to the Lord during the long vac.
The vac can feel such a weird time. It's so easy to spend all term in survival mode, waiting until that break. But then, the vac finally arrives, and you just feel a bit lost without the buzz of Oxford life. It's great that there are so many Christians in Oxford, but it can be hard to adjust to life at home. If you feel spiritually drained during the vac, you are not alone! Lots of us feel that. Here are a few tips and tricks that I hope can be helpful.
1. Be honest with God about it! It's easy to feel like we need to clean ourselves up before we can come to God and enjoy Him. But the reality is, we find ourselves not wanting to pray, or read our Bibles, or go to church. We think we need to feel better and only then can talk to God. But from Psalm 73, we can see that we can be 'brute beasts' before God and He still holds us and guides us. So be honest with Him about all the messy thoughts and cold feelings you might be having and invite Him to help you with it. Remember, He already knows it all anyway!
2. Get stuck into your local church! We weren't designed to live as lone believers but to live alongside each other, so make the most of God's gift of community. This might feel a bit scary. Maybe it involves going to a church where you aren't that well known, and you might have to make the first move. But the vac is a long time, it's worth enjoying and investing in God's people now, rather than waiting until being back in Oxford.
3. Build a good routine. I find this hard - the vacs for me were almost always characterised by no routine and poor spiritual discipline. Use the freedom of the vac to build good habits and spend time with God in His word and speaking to Him. It doesn't need to be for hours, just work on dedicating quality time to Him each day, however long it might be. If you miss a day, don't worry! There's a whole new day to start again.
4. Remember that God is gracious and steadfast. Whilst we flip and flop and go through spiritual highs and lows, let's be thankful that God remains the same. It's easy to think that when we feel good spiritually, that it means we are closer to God. But He has saved us and holds us through all our fickle feelings. He does not leave our side, whether we feel Him there or not! Trust that He hasn't changed, He doesn't waver in His love for us, and He always wants to help us to enjoy Him wherever we are.
I hope some of this is helpful, but don't worry if it still feels like an inevitable cycle. It's okay to not feel on a spiritual high all the time. Being a Christian doesn't mean always feeling amazing, it means trusting in God. Whatever the vac might look like for you, He works all things for good (Romans 8:28), and His love for you won't change.