“Summer Slide” (Hebrews 11:23-29)

It’s called the “Summer Slide” or “Summer Learning Loss.”  If you’re a parent or an educator, you’ve probably experienced it.  When kids leave school for the summer, they tend to lose the information they gained over the year.  Some studies report that when measuring verbal and math skills, some students lose as much as 2-3 grade levels of ability in only three months.

Yikes.  I mean, how long have you or I been out of school now?  Probably a lot longer than three months.  We’ve forgotten a lot.  A lot. 

Educators and professionals report that there are specific strategies for helping children overcome the summer slide—mainly by finding simple ways the brain working over the summer:

“As simple as it sounds, reading books can reverse the summer slide in literacy skills for even the poorest children. Richard Allington, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his colleagues found that giving kids 12 books to read over the summer was as effective as summer school in raising the students’ reading scores….Another study…found that regardless of family income, the effect of reading four to five books over the summer was large enough to prevent a decline in reading-achievement scores from the spring to the fall. Kim’s other finding: children who said they had easy access to books over the summer ended up reading more. So seasonal alarm bells aside, the best way to push back against the summer slide is with your library card.”[1]

Here’s where we’re heading: the “summer slide” can happen to any of us, and I’m not just talking about your ability to help your kids with their math homework.  I’m talking about our spiritual lives.  While faith isn’t about developing a “skill set” like reading or math, there’s a rhythm and a pattern to our walk with God that, when broken, has ripple effects for most of the rest of our lives.

No one’s saying that it’s wrong to take a summer vacation.  No one’s saying it’s wrong to enjoy some time off at your beach house or on the boat.  What we want, however, is for each of us to be as intentional with our spiritual habits as we are about our recreational habits.

This week we’re going to look at Moses, whose shining example is tainted by a single great mistake.  In the book of Hebrews, the unnamed author lists Moses among the many great “heroes” of the faith:

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.  (Hebrews 11:23-29)

We probably all have an image of Moses from the old Charlton Heston movie.  It is through Moses that God reaches into human history to rescue his people from Egyptian slavery.  This movement out of Egypt—an event we know as the “exodus”—became symbolic of the way that God redeems all his people from the slavery and bondage of sin.

So it is fitting that the writer of Hebrews should use Moses as an example of the kind of faith that we should strive for.  But as we will see, Moses’ record was hardly spotless.  What lessons might we learn?

  • First, we recognize that God’s perfect plan always comes about through imperfect people. All of us are deeply flawed.  It is equally fitting, then, that the writer of Hebrews directs our thoughts to Moses’ faithfulness rather than Moses’ failure.
  • Second, we recognize that God is gracious. Moses’ failure resulted in God’s discipline, but not his full wrath.  Moses is counted among the heroes of faith, and even supernaturally appears alongside Elijah on Jesus’ mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), so it’s clear that Moses never lost his salvation.
  • Third, these great achievements should also remind us that there are none so great that may not have a moment of failure.  When we find ourselves at our most successful, those may the times when we are most vulnerable.

In the days ahead, we’ll see how the frustrations of leadership prompted Moses to “drift” from his steadfast course—even in a seemingly subtle way.  And it may also reveal the way our own heart attitudes can cause us to drift from holiness in search of our own happiness.


[1] Annie Murphy, “Do Kids Really Have ‘Summer Learning Loss?’” Time.com, July 1, 2013, http://ideas.time.com/2013/07/01/do-kids-really-have-summer-learning-loss/


1 thought on ““Summer Slide” (Hebrews 11:23-29)

  1. This was for me… I think the scariest thing about drifting is that it is such a slow process you dont usually realize its happening…

    That’s why we, the world, needs great leaders and pastors who can see and make us aware of the dangers that lie ahead.

    Thank you for being a watchman…

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