va·ca·tion/vāˈkāSH(ə)n,vəˈkāSH(ə)n/(noun): an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.
What feelings come up for you when you hear the word "vacation"? Is it excitement, sunshine and rest or guilt, anticipation and dread? Personally, I've felt guilty for taking a vacation at times. It's showed up in subtle ways, like trying to have a 'purpose' for every trip. I've signed up to volunteer for a service project, attached business meetings to my schedule, and even signed up for a half marathon to justify my trip. At times, taking off time from work and investing money in relaxing seems like a waste to me. I admire those who can fall off the grid and bathe in the sun by the beach. Sounds luxurious.
As I talk with disciples about travel, I realize that many of us have judgments around vacationing. I wonder why is that? Why do we attach more value to traveling for a church conference or service project than we do for rest and relaxation? I invite you to consider that vacation enhances our experience of life. Here are a few reasons why taking a true vacation equips us to grow in character and faith:
1) Taking time off requires us to trust God more
For most, the greatest hindrance to taking a vacation is not having enough time or money. We worry that everything will fall apart if we leave our job for more than a couple days. When thinking about the cost of the vacation, we consider what bills could be paid instead. Let me be clear - I'm not advocating neglecting responsibilities. However, I am asking you to consider what's ruling your life. Many actions centered around our utilization of our resources display trust issues with God. I'll admit I struggle with this myself constantly. I fall trap to an independent nature that says "nobody is going to take care of me but me." Really? God is more in tune with my needs than I ever could be. This passage in Matthew 6 reminds me that he is in total control of every aspect of my life and my future:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Going on vacation gives us an opportunity to put things into the hands of God and to relinquish our false control.
2) Vacations give us an opportunity to honor God with our bodies
Many Christians are looking for way to be a better steward and more giving, yet we run ourselves to the ground in the process. Either we 1) justify not being in the position to take a vacation, 2) carve out time but our lack of finances get in the way or 3) we return more exhausted than when we left. When planned with intention, the time we set out to refresh and reset can allow us to be more effective from the inside out.
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." -1 Corinthians 6:19
Research has shown that benefits of a regular vacation include:
- Better brain functions from rest.
- Overall health boosts as a result of the mind and body relaxing
- Creativity, productivity, and quality of work improve
- Signs of depression diminish.
- Sleep improves.
- Souls are restored.
- Increased appreciation for nature and people of diverse cultures.
- Goal achievement is enhanced.
- Families and relationships are strengthened.
- Sense of balance is renewed when the rhythm of work and rest is reset.
- Burnouts are prevented.
Many times in our society, we are reactive instead of proactive. I challenge you to treat vacations as a supplement for efficiency, connection, effectiveness and joy instead of a prescription in the aftermath of a breakdown.
3) Going on vacation is a gift from God
The Lord wired us to seek satisfaction in our toil. The most obvious way is through our paid jobs. However, we toil in our communities, families and churches for eternal compensation. I believe God wants us to take time out to acknowledge his beauty and creation: Like sandy beaches that extend beyond what the eye can see; to mountains as high as the heavens; and to the sounds of various languages in the streets. The vastness of God is evident when we sit still in the midst of a true vacation. Find satisfaction in your toil by acknowledging the little role you plan in the massive world we live in. In Ecclesiastes 3: 9-14, King Solomon shares:
"What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him."
Through the fall of man, we received our lot of painful toil on earth. Rest and enjoyment are God's gift to us.
With the Spring season on the horizon here in the US, this is a great time to pursue deepening our commitment to Christ through vacationing. With a thought-out plan and proper motivation, the hope of rejuvenation is available to those who believe! As disciples, we should never take a vacation from our faith. Vacations give us an opportunity to renew our devotion to God and others.
Trust God, honor the temple of the spirit and receive his amazing gift.
What hindrances do you face when considering taking a vacation? If you're in the habit of taking vacations, how can you make them better?