"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."" Mark 6:30-31
Vacations can be tough.
I'm on one right now, and I am having a great time........but it is because I have learned some secrets along the way. First, the idea of "vacation" really is somewhat odious as a concept. The idea is that you vacate a place/job/life/reality for a period of time and things will be better.
Yeah, right. Have you ever talked to a mom and dad with a family of three kids after they returned from that vacation of a lifetime, complete with RV, planned Cracker Barrel stops, and various amusements and attractions along the 4,000 mile/8 day journey? Ask them how rested they feel. They are begging to go back to spreadsheets or laundry or spaghetti-O's just for some sense of normalcy and peace.
Why do we "vacation?" I hate the word. We in the States have taken a great concept, and just consumer-washed it with some idea of the American dream that ends up becoming a nightmare. I have always longed for the idea to be back to its original intent - that of rest (of course, extended Sabbath rest would fit here as a concept too). I have friends from the UK and Canada, and I love what they say when they are going on vacation. They say they are going to be on "holiday." That is fantastic, and if appropriately understood and applied, is far closer to what would be good for us emotionally, physically, and, yes, spiritually. The word "holiday" finds its meaning in two words............"holy" and "day." A holy day. A string of holy days. Now that sounds inviting. Much better than trying to "vacate" reality or become vacuous I would say.
As I said, I have learned some lessons over the years about this (other lessons, like even tanning, have yet to congeal in my grey matter.........seriously, I look like a spotted leopard with eczyma and poison ivy right now). It seems that at times in the past, I have concluded that vacationing meant vacating everything associated with my normal life so that I could live (abnormally?) in an alternate reality for a while. And I concluded that it would be refreshing. It's not actually. Not at all. I feel empty when I have done that. Vacuous. Because, as a pastor, I thought that maybe I could take a vacation from God during that two week period so that I could rest up and be ready for when He throws me back at the world to save it single-handedly. That disease is called moronitis (think on that a minute if it doesn't initially register). I was more tired spiritually and emotionally after that type of vacation than before it.
What's the secret? Well, there really is no secret. Jesus said it pretty clearly to his disciples: "Come with me by yourselves......". That phrase seems a little weird at first, and may escape our understanding if we don't stop to listen. Normally, the common mantra that people feed you if you have been working hard is that you need to "get away by yourself" or "get away with your family", etc.. The question is, where is Jesus in all of that "getting away?" He says that for us to find rest, we will need to come away with Him. With Him, not away from Him.
So, what does that look like for a family "vacation?" Well, I think that seeing God in the relationships you have with your family is a place to start. I also think that mom and dad can create some space to be alone with God if they are creative. Case in point: My wife and I trade exercising time while the other stays with our kids. This is fantastic time with God. In fact, in one of our pit stops in Atlanta, I went running one morning and decided to run all the way to the neighborhood pool where I met Jesus back in the summer of 1989. I found it, and the memories came flooding back. I looked up into heaven just a few days ago, standing in the same place that I met him 18 years ago, and told him "thanks." I was a little overwhelmed as I thought about all of this journey starting right there in that street outside the neighborhood pool.
That was a holiday (holy day). Hope to have some more before I am done................hope you have a great holiday too.