You can tell the seasons of year by looking out your window… or by looking at your Instagram feed.
The Fall features social media posts with yellow and red leaves on the ground, Pumpkin Spice lattes in hand, and highlighter pens covering the words of biology and math textbooks (or your Precept homework).
The Winter social media posts feature healthy meal plans, Lululemon activewear, and either the new Peloton bike in your basement or the newly christened Anytime Fitness membership card in your wallet.
You know Spring has sprung when #unfiltered pictures of tulip fields, and promoted ads for Reactine pop up on your feed.
And Summer comes with pictures of sunshine, sunglasses, sand, and stacks of books people are reading as they relax on vacation from the grind of their 9-5.
If your summer reading list isn’t already unrealistically long, let me suggest you drop one more hardcopy on your stack (or download another one to your audio book subscription or e-reader): Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund.
I’m currently working through this book as a daily devotional, and it’s clear to see why early reviewers are calling it a must read.
The book centres on the wonderfully comforting and shockingly true reality that Jesus Christ – the Creator of the Cosmos, the King of Creation, and Almighty God – is gentle, lowly, and approachable. As Matthew 11:29 reminds us, Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart”.
Yes, Jesus will judge the living and the dead. Yes, he will punish those who persist in rebellion against his Father and do not believe in and pledge allegiance to his Lordship. Those are good and true realities of who Jesus is.
And also, Jesus wants to be your friend. There is room at his table for you. He is ready to have you over for a cup of coffee, or some crackers and cheese paired with some of that water from the wedding in Cana (and he would make sure he had something you could enjoy even if you were on a diet or had food restrictions, because he is hospitable and welcoming like that). He not only wants to be approached by us, he is the most approachable person to have ever lived.
This approachable and friendly Jesus cares deeply about you. He knows suffering and he knows sorrow, and he has saved you a seat in his living room. He doesn’t just go to weddings where the music is loud, laughter bounces off the walls, and people go back for seconds and thirds. He also lingers in funeral homes with the grieving, where the finger sandwiches often go untouched because sadness masks the hunger. He knows grief, and he knows how to grieve with those who are crushed by the sorrows of sickness, despair, and death.
Jesus is majestic, all-powerful, all-knowing, and holy. And he is approachable, gentle, and lowly. Think about the kinds of people who flocked around Jesus of Nazareth during his earthly ministry. The children, the destitute, the sick, the lonely, the loser, the lost. And he loved it. He came to us so we could approach him. And we want to approach him because his gentleness makes him so approachable – the most approachable person there ever was or could be.
So, to all who are lonely and losers, Jesus can not wait to hang out with you this summer.
To all the sick, Jesus is ready to break the quarantine restrictions and join you in your stress and distress.
To all the children, Jesus is the best big brother and friend you could ever ask for, and he will never leave you behind or leave you out.
Summer is for the simple joys of sunshine, cold drinks, long nights, and memorable but unremarkable moments with friends and family. So what better season to remind yourself of the simple, and simply staggering, truth that Jesus loves you. More than that, he likes you and wants you to join him around the campfire. There is a spot there for you.
He is the King of the Cosmos, but he’s also more approachable than we could ever fathom. And he wishes we would go to him.