Coming up as a youngster in Detroit, I recall my parents making sure to take a vacation with us. We traveled 13 hours in a 1975 Electric 255 Buick from Detroit to Atlanta. The ride itself was an adventure that I will never forget. Vacation for us was not only riding in that big 225 Buick, it was also spending time alone with each other and building love and unity with our family. "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:14 — The New International Version
God wants us all to get away. I'm talking about the daily stresses of life — work, dealing with family, our personal imperfections, our weaknesses and even sinful shortcomings. "The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it." Mark 4:18 — The Message Bible.
Going on vacation means to totally vacate an area of what's known to us and travel to a place that is completely different. Our Lord can use that time to help us renew and charge our spiritual batteries in a time when we may be at wits end and Satan may seem to be winning the victory. In Romans 8:26-28 of The Message Bible it says, "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."
Our spiritual vacation lies within the relationship we have with Jesus Christ and our ability to vacate from the cares of life and retreat to the holy heart of God through Jesus. Now this vacation is not running away from Him, but running to Him and resting in the knowledge that we are loved and appreciated by our Savior. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 — The Message Bible
Vacating or vacationing is a time for us to leave all the worries behind and take time to restore ourselves spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically, not just with humans, but more importantly, with God. "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Philippians 4:6 — The Message Bible
Here are two aspects of the benefits of a vacation for people seeking to recharge their life and regain a stronger relationship with God:
1. A time to regroup — Many of us need time to regroup and gather ourselves, our thoughts and start anew. It's like a basketball coach calling timeout and saying to the team, "Lets refocus on defense to make them turn the ball over." Well, God wants us to refocus and take time to put on a full court press against the things of the world. Vacationing can help to do that as we gather ourselves again and make a new start. We must put out of our mind the things that have caused us stress, which can be problematic, but nonetheless achievable in Christ. "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." Philippians 3:13b — The New International Version
2. A time to reconnect – To come together again. Being detached from the daily pressures of life can aid us in our attempt to reattach ourselves to who matters most, and for me, it a good relationship with Jesus Christ. As we reconnect with God, Who is the provider of spiritual strength, we get plugged back into Him. "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4 — The New International Version
Here are some good words from the Message Bible found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: "There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap, A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct, A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer, A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part, A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go, A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up, A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace."
My friends, now is the right time to vacate what is common to you daily and take some time to regroup, reconnect, renew relationships, restore peace within and rejuvenate the power God longs to give us.
Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.