July 16, 2018
I was watching my 15 month old granddaughter a couple of days ago. She was contentedly sitting on the floor making baby noises and going from one toy or object in the room to another exploring and playing. Do you have any memory of a time in your life when you had virtually no responsibilities other than to play all day? Seriously, think about it. How far back do you remember? I can recall events from the age of 5 and even 4 to some extent. My family didn’t send me to preschool or kindergarten, so I had no school obligations. 5 years old… all I had to do was entertain myself all day. Maybe the only thing as adults we have in our lives that resembles that is when we go away on vacation. And I emphasize the words “go away” because a vacation at home is no vacation at all. When we leave on vacation our only obligation is to do whatever we want/can; sleep in, stay up, eat whatever we want whenever we want, swim, read… Those occasions are glorious! (By the way, if you are interested, the English word “vacation” comes from the Latin “vacatio” which means “freedom from something.” In our use of the word it generally means “freedom from work.”)
Ellen and I have tried to “do” vacations by staying home and going on fun day trips. It never works. Somewhere in the back of our minds is the notion that there are things that need to be done around the house and we are being irresponsible by not doing them. Do you know what I mean? When you go away however, those things are “out of sight and out of mind.”
Until we find ourselves in a situation where we have NO RESPONSIBILITIES for a period of time, we can’t really identify the subtle (or not so subtle) pressures under which we live our lives daily. When we wake up each morning with a list of things that need to be addressed, that takes a toll. Not always a large toll, but a toll none the less. Or maybe we chronically wake at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning with nagging thoughts about things that need to be accomplished. Ellen and I used to have an above ground pool. The instructions, when I installed it, were very clear that the top of the pool had to be level! If not you ran the risk of the lower side giving way to the pressure of the water. When I finally got the pool finished, added all the water and everything settled… one side was an inch lower than the other side. I laid awake at night for months expecting to hear a giant gush coming from our back yard. It’s hard to see or feel the effect these nagging thoughts have on our lives until we rise in the morning with NOTHING to do or think about.
Let me be clear… having “nothing” to do for long stretches of time is not good. It robs us of our dignity and confuses our sense of purpose. But periodic breaks from the demands of this world are needed. So, what does the Bible say about “vacation?” Well, nothing that I am aware of. But it has much to say about “rest.” Need I remind you that the story of creation essentially ends with God resting? Genesis 2: By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. There are volumes written on what this means and I do not claim to understand it all. Things like “did God get tired?” I just know that somehow rest is associated with the conclusion of work. There are many other passages that imply the desire/need for rest:
eCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.
All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.
We are ½ way through July. Some of you may have already taken vacation but many of you are still looking forward to your summer get away. It is my hope and prayer that you experience rest and relaxation.
Go with the Lord.
FYI… too much rest isn’t good either: 😉
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.