I do not remember many "vacations" in my growing up years. Allow me to clarify because I want to be fair.
In younger years I remember glorious times in the high elevations of northern New Mexico at a camp affiliated with our denomination. My parents worked as staff and, looking back, God used used that camp to create within me a sense of wonder at His creation.
While in Australia I remember a beach trip to Port Vincent, as well as truly wonderful summer's off from school. Twice, on the journeys between Australia and the U.S., I remember spending languorous days in Fiji, eating fresh coconut in the mornings and hot Indian curry in the evenings.
I have good memories of my growing up years and cannot moan about a childhood of unending grind. Far from it. I had many good experiences. Yet I believe it is fair to say planning regular times of vacation - just for the sake of vacation - was not a part of my family's way of life. There needed to be a reason to justify trips or departures from the standard routine. That reason needed to be larger than mere ... vacation.
Surely some kind of ministry can be accomplished, giving purpose to the trip. Surely there are people who need to be visited. Surely there is a conference, a lectureship, or some kind of quasi-religious or spiritual or church event that can justify the travel.
None of which is ... vacation. No, it is not. You may think it is, but it is not ... vacation. It may be many things and fun may even be a blessed serendipity, but it is not ... vacation. Not if your's is a pastor's family. Not if the routines of your life are wound tightly by the cords of ministry.
Because vacation is time set aside to not do what you're always doing. Vacation is intentionally suspending the working routines of life. And hear me out: I'm a big believer in the working routines of life! I'm not a big believer in "the 40 hour week" or - God save us from the French disease - a 35 hour week! I believe in working and working hard, and with vigor and "stop watching the clock!" Count me among those more concerned with getting the job done well than in wondering how much time it takes to do the job.
I believe in playing hard, too. God did not make us to rev at high speed all the time. Nor, if we are at all concerned about longevity and creativity, ought we work day after day after day after day after ... . (You get the idea.)
God made us to need and want a Sabbath. God rested and He did not need to rest. God did not need to refill the pools of His sagging imagination; did not need to replenish His depleted stores of energy. But God did rest. He chose to rest.
If God chose to rest, and embedded the Sabbath into the spiritual DNA of His Image Bearers, then neglecting our own rest bucks us up against God's intention for our lives. We neglect times of rest and re-creation at our peril. By foregoing rest we take unto ourselves a prerogative reserved for God: that we can work indefinitely. We can't. Last I looked, only God can do that ... and He rested.
Our trip to Yosemite affirmed my genuine, God-designed, need for rest. Yet we ended up hiking, all told, around 60 miles. How was this "rest"?
- First, intentionally, it was not work. Our trip served no other purpose than to lift us away from the routines of work. It required us to lift our eyes and see a larger world. In doing so we deepen our trust in God.
- Second, because it was Yosemite, it fed our natural hunger for re-creation and beauty. God has made this world and made everything beautiful in its time. God has embedded within us a natural longing, an instinctive response, to genuine, noble beauty. Our vacation made us thankful.
The third reason will be in the next post.
The next post will also be the last post in this series.