It's been four weeks since my family had a great (but hot) time in Florida at Walt Disney World. It's been four weeks since we spent two days each way in the van. It's been four weeks since we laughed so hard, ate too much, and couldn't drink enough water.
What did we (re)learn about vacations? Why do you need one? Here are three reasons:
I, like most Americans, don't rest well. While it's true we procrastinate well and are lazy, we don't often rest well. Why? We have too much going on. We are too busy. Many times, we are thinking about the next thing before we are finished with what is in front of us.
At the heart of our failure to rest is a tendency to trust ourselves more than God. Resting well means waiting, and both resting and waiting seem like an annoying, frustrating waste of time. We'd rather not rest--let alone wait.
But that is exactly what we need. We need to rest and we need to wait on God. We need to trust his sovereign control and perfect timing.
When we refuse to rest and wait we forget all God has done for us:
"Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you" (Psalm 116:7 ESV).
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope" (Psalm 130:5 ESV).
When we find true rest in the Lord, the Holy Spirit revives us. What does running too hard in our own strength look like? It's getting to work before we got to God. It's missing time in God's Word and prayer because we've made busyness a higher priority. That's understandable for a mom with a newborn or a family (like mine recently) in the midst of a move. But if we allow those seasons to persist, it's dangerous for our soul. It's through resting in Jesus and His work that we find life. Only when the Holy Spirit recharges us can we do ministry out of the overflow. Through being with Him, we find power to do what He calls us to do at home, work, church, and anywhere we are. Dependence on the Spirit can and should happen at all times and in all places, but I've found it happens most often for me when I retreat away from my ordinary routine. That's why you need a vacation.
It's in this recharging that we get both restored and refreshed.
Near the end of my week off, after I had rested and started to recharge, God spoke to me. He showed me how I needed to recalibrate my devotional life. I'm a pastor. I pretty much get paid to read the Bible. But in that time of rest and retreat, God showed me that my devotional time had become a mechanical, check-the-box sort of thing. The routine I need had become a lifeless rut. I paid lip service to prayer without feeling or passion in it. I read God's Word, but I didn't give time to meditate and soak it in.
So how did I respond? I tweaked what I'm doing devotionally. I didn't blow it up or try to reinvent the wheel. I just changed a few small things.
I'm being more intentional by deliberately going slower. By this I mean, as I approach a book of the Bible, I reading it as whole first; not to take notes, not to break it down, but to see it as a whole. Over the next several days I'm breaking it down chapter by chapter, ask the Holy Spirit to guide me to what I'm missing. Then I spend the day truly meditating on what He pointed out (not forgetting it the minute I close the Bible). Be meditating on it I mean, thinking through the implications of the passage, how it applies to me, and how it should be (and is) changing me.
In doing so I've found that I am growing in holiness in the sense that slowing my reading down and not rushing through it has had the same effect on my prayer life. My prayers are both more focused and more scriptural. Now I'm not just checking a box, I'm being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Rom. 12) as I rely more on God and less on me.
Have you taken a vacation lately? If not, you should. You need it. If you have taken a vacation and God showed you something, share with us what he taught you below.