How to Not Waste Your Vacations

Vacation

Last week, my wife and I got the privilege to go on vacation. We packed up our little Mazda and headed north of the border to a cabin in Washington. While we were up there, I made an effort to not fall into my typical vacation traps because normally I waste my vacations. Instead of taking advantage of the time I have been given, I would use it for things I shouldn't, have attitudes that are not beneficial, and then end up coming back home drained.

Wasting any sort of gift is a shame, especially one as valuable as a vacation, so before we left town Rebecca and I spent some time in prayer about how we could use this free week we were given. God gave guidance, we followed it and it was amazing (isn't it always awesome when we obey Him?).

Here are a few reflections from our week of vacation:

REST

We need rest; this is the whole point of a vacation. It may seem funny that I would even need to point this out but I know of a lot of people (my self included) who do not make their vacations restful.

Life cannot always be go, go, go. You are human, which means you are finite (in strength, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, relationally). We eventually need to recharge our batteries or else we will burn out and be forced to take time off, whether in the hospital or the morgue. Resting reminds us that we are just flesh and bones—mere mortals. This is a good thing; it keeps us humble.

This is why God instituted the Sabbath for the Jews in the Old Testament. They worked six days out of the week and were required to rest on the seventh (Saturday). It must have driven all the workaholics and type A's crazy.

"How are all these things going to get done? I have so much to do!"

The Jews were an agricultural society and for them to take a day off was real risky business. What if something happened to the crop? What if one of the animals got sick? You know what it took for the Jews to obey God and take a day off? It took faith in God—trusting that God would still provide for them, trusting that while they were resting God was working, trusting that He is sovereign and remembering that they were not.

Now, although we no longer are required to take a Sabbath anymore now that Christ has come (cf. Colossians 2:16-17), the overarching principles behind the Sabbath still apply today. We are weak and we need to be reminded of that. We are not in control and God is. The world will not stop turning the minute we turn our iPhones off.

While we are resting God is still working. Rest in Him.

SEEK GOD

Sabbaths were not just a time for the Jews to sleep in on Saturdays, they were a time for the people of God to seek His face. They would all join in the temple or synagogue and hear the Scriptures read. They would sing as a congregation the Psalms of David, worshipping the Lord. It was a time to remember that God is our greatest pursuit, not work, not family, not life.

To my shame, many times on vacation I have also taken a vacation from God. This does not mean I was an atheist for the week. Instead, I kind of put my relationship with Christ on the back burner, reaching for him only when it was convenient. Maybe I would crack open my Bible, maybe not. Maybe I would pray to Him, maybe not. Maybe I would find a good church where I was staying, only once. Then I would come back from vacation and pretend it never happened.

This time it was different, and I felt it. Rebecca and I decided that vacation was not an excuse to take a break from God but an opportunity to spend even more time with Him than we normally could with work, church, friends, and family to balance. We dedicated the week to seeking His face. He refreshed our souls. He strengthened our marriage. He gave guidance. He gave depth. Isn't that what we are truly longing for?

WORK

This may seem like a contradiction but you make your vacations count by working hard before you go off to Cabo and by working hard when you get back—and loving it the whole time.

Yes, we need rest. Absolutely. But the reason we need rest is because we were created to work.

I hear men complain about work all the time—the hours are long, the work is menial, their boss is a tyrant—but then with a little bravado in their voice they announce, "Well, it's just my cross to bear. Work is just a part of the Fall," and then everyone around them applauds them for their perseverance. What a joke.

Work is not a part of the Fall; Adam began working the very day he was created. Genesis 2:15 says, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Work has always been a part of human life; this means that work is a good thing. We were created to work. We were created to cultivate. We were created to create.

What happens with the Fall is not that we have to work but that our work is cursed. Now what we created resists. What we cultivate rebels, just like we did to God. Work is a lot more difficult now, but we are still called to work.

It is not work for work's sake. Our work is worship to God. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." We are to work and work hard and remember the whole time that our true boss is Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and Savior and He is the only One who can give us true rest.