We've vacationed along a beach where sea turtles nest. They start coming in May, so wildlife officials enforce a "Lights Out" policy, insisting residents either turn lights out, change bulbs to colored light, or cover windows with shades. Hatchlings see lights and become confused; they are meant to see the sun or moon shining over the water and gravitate to the natural source of light. If they go toward the deceptive artificial lights, they end up lost or on dangerous roadways, instead of safe in shallow ocean waters. Distraction can lead to disaster.
Vacation distraction can lead to disaster, so we find ourselves exhausted or in a dangerous condition, instead of refreshed and full of life as we are meant to be. We are meant to have rest, and it takes intentional planning to leave behind regular routines and responsibilities of everyday life, so we can find some of that deep soul rest that we need deposited in our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual "tanks."
Vacation time can certainly be a time for fun; I often tease my husband that our vacations sometimes feel like "the Amazing Race;" we take advantage of the setting, time, and company. But we have to know two things in order to "turn the lights out," avoiding vacation disaster and find rest.
1) Jesus gives the tired among us (ok, who isn't in that crowd?) a sweet invitation:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
If we are followers of God in need of rest, to go away to a quiet place and seek rest WITHOUT Jesus is a band-aid. It's a hollow substitute for "rest for our souls" like we need and He promises. Why would we go away and play like those who don't know Christ, but still expect a deeper, richer, longer lasting rest?
You can include time with Jesus in ways like this: Memorize and meditate on a portion of scripture (alone or as a group), take a new Bible study, buy yourself a new prayer journal & spend some special time each day, take some new worship music to listen to, if you have children take a missionary story to read each night, read a biography of a hero of our faith. Those are just a few ideas. I'll give more in the days ahead.
2) We need to know how God specifically designed us to rest. For a husband and wife vacationing together or for friends vacationing together, we know we that we find true rest in Christ, but we have to think about the practical "what's restful to each?" question to make it work... Some people find total quiet restful. Some unwind best at the beach and some in the mountains. Some find it hard to rest with extended family. Some rest well with some physical activity.
1 Peter 3:7 says husbands are to live with wives "in an understanding way," and wives are to have "respectful" behavior in that same chapter's verse 2. Perhaps part of being understanding and respectful means we study and ask and learn and care about what is "restful" to each other, then give "permission" and help to have the opportunity to rest. We wouldn't want to be the light that draws our own "turtle" away from the light of the moon (real rest) and leaves them exhausted.
True rest describes a condition of the heart and the mind, and it's often a by-product of "vacation" times we carve out. It is more likely to happen when we push away the stuff of life to hear the Lord more clearly. He says He wants us to come, so He can help us find that wonderful quality of rest. Don't let the artificial lights draw you away from where real rest awaits.
Do you know how you "rest best"? And how about those who vacation with you ... what do they need to rest?
Stay tuned for the rest of this week and next as we think about what to do when you just can't afford a vacation, when you haven't had one in a LONG time, when kids go along, and much more. Tomorrow ... "Vacation Success" ;)