Summer Slide

Nancy Hatcher, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | June 8, 2023

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? ’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” 

Matthew 7:21-23

No more pencils,
no more books,
no more teachers’ sassy looks!
(author unknown)

Chances are you’ve repeated this old rhyme or have been around someone who has chanted this in the last few weeks of school. As a teacher who taught in the younger grades, I chanted this too, but I also wanted to prevent what we termed “The Dreaded Summer Slide.” We coached parents to sign up for library programs that would keep their children engaged in books over summer vacation. Our theory was this: the more you read, the better you read. The summer slide could be averted, and growth would continue to rise.

Matthew 7:21-23 are some of the hardest verses to read in the Bible. Why do these words strike terror into many Christ-followers? The answer is simple enough. We don’t want to face our Lord at the end of our lives and hear him say, “I never knew you. Away from me.”  

As I write this today, I feel my stomach flip flop because I understand the summer slide. How easy it is for me to drift away from Jesus. These verses are meant to be an encouragement to be obedient to God’s will. He wants us to live in tune with Him throughout our days on this planet. 

How do I grow in my relationship with Him so that I am able to discern his will? Just like in our human relationships, it takes time. I need to make an effort to get to know Jesus better by talking to Him and reading His love letters, the Bible, written specifically for me. 

Driving last weekend, I noticed an interesting feature on our truck. It beeped at me as I unknowingly drifted into the left lane. When we are in an abiding relationship with Jesus, He convicts us of our sins, and God gives us a beep. And hopefully, we confess the sin and make a turn in the other direction—the Holy Spirit convicts us of our drift, and we are forgiven. We can stop our summer slide. 

Search me, God, and know my heart… See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Next Steps 

As we continue on this series, consider the following ideas to draw closer to Jesus.  

  1. Set calendar alerts to pray and read Matthew. 
  2. Use the PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) acronym during your time with God. 

Going Deeper

An excellent way to try to grasp the full meaning of the Scriptures is to compare translations. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go out and buy a bunch of Bibles in different translations. Simply pull up the YouVersion Bible app or visit, and you can compare the translations. What new insights stand out to you after you read one or two other translations?