In Genesis 2:1-3 we read that after the work of creation in the first 6 days God rested or refrained from any works on that 7th day. God had previously surveyed all that he had done and pronounced it as being good, on the 7th day He refrained from activity and pronounced the day or time spent refraining from work as also being a good or blessed thing.
In Genesis, God begins not only the cycle of dark and light but also the cycle of work and rest on a regular basis thus blessing both. God has always recognized the need for a balance of work and rest not only for man but for all of creation in order to achieve balance and maintain vitality.
2 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord.3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop,4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.5 Your harvest's aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. 6 All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you.7 Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.
- Leviticus. 25:2-7
In our day of two career families or people who are forced to work overtime and weekends to keep pace with the job, it's easy to forget to take a break, to plan for regular rest from our work in order to renew and re-energize.
It's interesting to note that the term recreation comes from the words Re-Create.
I say all of this to remind us and encourage us with the idea that holidays and vacations are things which are blessed by God and part of His plan for a person's total spiritual, emotional and physical well being. To feel guilty for taking the time to read a book, go for a walk, leave for a trip to "get away from it all" is not a sign of Godliness. It's probably a sign of weak faith and a sure sign that you really do need to take a break!
So, as we are into summer and nice weather, and planning our holidays, I want to encourage you to do so with God's blessings and a few reminders of what to pack when you do leave on summer vacation.
1. Pack Holiness
There's something about the sun, the sand and strange places that seems to lower our inhibitions about things. When the Israelites had a time of rest from their travels in the desert and they awaited Moses' return from the mountain - they went back to their former behavior of idolatry and revelry (Ex. 32:1; 5-6). This took place after they had seen the miracles, after they had been saved from Egypt, after they had publicly reaffirmed that they would obey and follow the Lord.
But they had time on their hands, a vacation that lasted several weeks and they forgot about remaining holy. We sometimes think that changing scenery, or changing routines means that it changes who we are - the holy ones of God!
I guess what I'm saying here is that the freedom that we experience at vacation time shouldn't be misunderstood as being freedom from being holy and conducting ourselves in a holy way.
In very practical terms this means:
- Being careful what we permit ourselves to do or see while on vacation. Let's not be involved in activities and entertainment that we would not do at home or in the company of other Christians.
- Being careful how we are seen. Summer is not an excuse to shed our clothes and our morals. There is a way to enjoy the beach and summer fun without being immodest and provoking others to lust or to wonder if we really are Christians.
Christians are holy in their behavior and speech no matter where they are whether at work, at church or on the beach.
2. Pack Faithfulness
One of the best ways to determine if Christianity only takes up a part of your life or if Christianity is your life is how you plan to remain faithful to the basic things while on vacation. Vacations are a true test of one's commitment and maturity in the area of worship and service to the Lord. Vacation is not a time away from God, it's a time to be away from the regular way you do things and a chance to do other new things.
We still eat, but eat differently; we still sleep, but perhaps a little more; we still do things but those we choose and those which don't usually require work; we still worship but perhaps with different people in a different place.
There are things you do when you leave to keep your home safe and in order like mail pick-up, feed animals, etc. There are things to do when you leave to keep your spiritual home in order as well:
- Notify someone (office) that you'll be away so we'll know you're gone and not ill, etc.
- Arrange a replacement for yourself if you teach or serve on the table or part of a group or project.
- Make plans and prepare how and where you will worship while travelling. This will be a new experience and is usually a very rewarding one.
- Remember your financial obligations to the church. The bills still have to be paid while you're gone.
- Don't use God's money to go on vacation.
- Make arrangements to leave it with someone or make it up when you return.
- God doesn't suspend your membership while you're away or at the cottage, the blood of Christ still flows - your contribution to the Lord shouldn't stop either.
3. Pack Love
The original reason for the Sabbath rest was for man to take a break from his work and draw back closer to God - remember during your period of rest to make time for prayer, Bible reading and worship so that you also can renew your relationship with the Father. Jesus said,
It is more blessed to give than to receive.
- Acts 20:35
This passage reminds us that the true blessings come when we give of ourselves not when we focus on receiving - and this principle holds true even when we're on vacation. Remember to pack enough love for everyone when leaving on vacation:
- Enough love for the family
- Vacations are a time to draw close to our families and take the time to rebuild relationships, not hide behind a book or sunglasses.
- Enough love for the lost
- There's no convenient season to hear or respond to the gospel. Vacations bring opportunities to meet and sometimes share your faith with new people - don't pass up the chance to share your faith just because you're on vacation. Jesus might return before you do.
- Enough love for yourself
- Some people hate vacations, feel guilty about taking time off or spending money on holidays.There are people at the other end of the spectrum who are always busy serving, helping, working - no time for rest. Jesus said that we need to love God, neighbor and self in order to fulfill God's will. Taking a vacation and doing ourselves some good, having some fun, taking it easy, is a perfectly honest and righteous way of loving ourselves in order to keep each part of this command in proper balance.
If you want to come back having "loved" your vacation, you've got to bring love with you on your vacation.
I hope you all have the opportunity to have some sort of vacation this summer and have a chance to go somewhere different, see family, visit new places. I just wanted to remind you to take Jesus with you no matter where or how you choose to spend your vacation. There's one more thing that you need to pack if you haven't already done so - Assurace that you are right with God before you leave.
- People wouldn't think of leaving without accident/theft insurance in case something would happen on the road, because you never know!
- Imagine insuring your car and your camera but leaving your soul to chance?
- In the middle of a good time God could require your soul - and if He did, would you be ready?
Don't leave without being sure that you're right with God - make sure...
- You've obeyed the gospel.
- You've been restored if you've not been faithful or fallen in sin.
- If you need to pack this last thing before you leave, why not do it now - because you might not come back.
Make sure you're all packed and ready to go as we stand and sing.