Summer is the height of extremes. The sun burns hot, the rain falls hard, the winds drive violently.

We simply must immerse ourselves in summer’s vibrancy, richness, and fullness. We wade knee-deep through glorious riverbeds, chasing frogs and fish and snakes. We climb trees, hike trails, paddle a boat into the middle of nowhere, down a cool glass of lemonade in one long refreshing drink, sink our teeth into an exquisitely juicy nectarine. Summer is the chocolate of the seasons—a perfectly shaped blackberry, almost too delicious to be true.

Every corner of the world teems now with life and busyness. Every surface crawls with bugs, every breath of wind carries the seeds of a million different organisms. Even the moisture in the air seems determined to launch colonies of mold or mildew on every surface it finds. Every inch of space—solid, liquid, or air—swarms with infinite life, flinging out its limbs to holler, “I am aliiiiive!”

Everywhere, everywhere is abundance, flourishing, delight—all colliding at once. Watermelons, peaches, and ice-cream cones drip with sweet nectar, rolling down our chins and arms, creating sticky hands and hair. Walking through the pungent grass, we disturb entire colonies of creatures; growing weeds and grasses scratch bare legs, tiny bugs and creatures crawl up our shorts and nibble elbows when we sit down. If you take a shovel to the dark, hot soil, you’ll find the earth simmering with life—every scoop wiggling with worms and slugs and bacteria so small you can’t see them.

butterfly on a yellow flower

None of this abundance sits still, just watching the day go by. Children run and play, getting muddy and sunburned and strong. Animals dig, build, eat, and store. Bugs flit around, carrying and planting and fertilizing. Butterflies and bees dart everywhere, doing their thing. Plants grow unstoppable, bursting through cement and under fences, as thick and fast as a jungle. All of creation is actualized now, demonstrating extravagantly that it exists for a purpose.

The word purpose sounds boring, grownup, and lifeless; corporate branding and self-help books have squeezed the meaning from it entirely. But there is nothing boring and lifeless about living on purpose. Our creator fashioned jungles, prairies, puppies, and people for a reason, with intent. He has a goal in mind. And in these seasons of flourishing, he forms us toward this purpose like a growth spurt.

As for us, we long for meaning deep in our bodies, minds, and souls. Significance draws us like a magnet. We crave confirmation that we’re more than accidents taking up space, intended for more than surviving a span of time before death, that our life’s energy is as needful and purposeful as the blazing sun and buzzing bees of summer. The whole point of beginning and becoming is the adventure of living into our purpose.

In philosophy and theology there is a concept called telos, a Greek word which means “end purpose, or goal.” Mark McMinn describes telos like this:

If we could imagine a fully whole human living a thriving, abundant life, then we would be picturing something like telos. . . . [Telos is] about finding the natural and purposeful end of what it means to be fully human. An acorn grows into a majestic oak tree and finds its telos, and a human may grow into a fully functioning person, revealing what humans are for.1

This season of flourishing, of abundance, demonstrates telos vividly, as all living things dash toward becoming. Life in this moment is unstoppable, overflowing all boundaries. We can hardly reign it in. Life has it in mind to take over completely. This is not the time to wait around, to see what happens. Make every moment count. Now is the time to get up and go for it.

Excerpted from All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World by Catherine McNiel, releasing in August 2019 from NavPress.


Notes & References


Catherine McNiel
About the Author

Catherine McNiel

Catherine McNiel is an author and speaker who seeks to open eyes to God’s creative, redemptive work in each day—while caring for three kids, two jobs, and one enormous garden. Her articles have been featured in various publications, including Christianity Today, MOPS, and Relevant Magazine. She is the author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline, (NavPress 2017), which was an ECLA Christian Book Award finalist, and All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World (NavPress 2019).