Vacations offer a unique opportunity to integrate and apply our theology. But like all areas of discipleship (e.g. relationships, sexuality, work, singleness, marriage, retirement, money), this requires intentionality. Otherwise, we fall into the pattern of doing vacations like our family of origin or the wider culture.
Each of us comes into vacations differently. Some of us, for example, have small children, aging parents, a special needs child, or severe financial constraints. Moreover, each of us has a specific temperament, personality, and set of passions.
Last year, I wrote a blog entitled Turning Your Vacations into Sabbaticals, applying the principles of weekly Sabbaths to our vacations. Here I want to offer you five words, or principles, that have helped Geri and I structure our “vacations” each year:
- Prayer. This is so obvious that we easily miss it! Take time to be still before the Lord and listen (Ps 37:7). You may be surprised.
- Thoughtfulness. Wise people, according to Proverbs, are prudent. They give thought to their ways (Proverbs 14:8, 21:5). Rather than vacation happening to you, take a proactive role in stewarding this God-given time to fit your needs. This has helped us, for example, to say a healthy no to some extended family opportunities.
- Delight. Delight is the center of Sabbath. List the activities, people, and places that replenish your soul. How can you weave them into this time away from work?
- Presence. It is easy to use vacation as a time to escape from the pain of work. Some of us even fall into a vegetative state. What we really need, however, is to be present to the miracle of life. Vacations offer us an undistracted opportunity to be aware and thankful to God for love and His innumerable gifts. Consider writing that word somewhere that you will see it this vacation and reviewing it daily.
- Rhythm. Vacations are a purposeful break from our typical rhythms. Yet we still need a structure to keep God at the center and to remain present with ourselves. What kind of rhythm will you need to build into your days during this year’s vacation?
One final tip: Make your first workday back from vacation a day alone with God to reflect on what He may have planted in your soul during your time away. Listen. Review your journal from the past year as well as your vacation. This is a practice I started about twenty years ago that has served me well.
May your vacation this year offer you a taste of the richness of our eternal Sabbath that awaits us when we see Jesus face-to-face.