The Lord’s Leading in Vacations

From Rev. Erik Buss, Assistant to the Pastor
August 6, 2018

When we think about taking vacations from a spiritual perspective, we likely think of it as what the Lord calls a recreation of charity. Vacations are useful because they allow us to unstring the bow, to divert our attention from our daily use, a use that “strains the mind and keeps it intent on its work or study. If it is not relaxed, it becomes dull and its desire flags.” (Charity 190) I just spoke to someone whose expected vacation essentially didn’t happen, and he is facing the start of a busy time without that break; he’s tired at just the thought of the upcoming work because he didn’t have that diversion.
I had a longer than usual vacation this year because of giving up vacation to help the church a bit ago. I would like to offer some reflections on some other benefits I noticed from my vacation – ways in which I see the Lord leading me through that time off to be a better human being.
The first is that Ann and I spent a lot of time together. And because we were withdrawn from the pressures of daily living, we also tended to act like our best selves. I am coming back from vacation with a deeper appreciation of my wife, and with a determination to keep some of that deep connection going even in our busy daily lives.
A second element is even more significant to me, and that is that we go on vacation to escape anxiety. So much of daily life involves worry and pressure. It can be hard during normal life, even on a weekend, to completely let go. Vacations give us a chance to see what life is like without that worry.
I am coming back from vacation determined to keep the anxiety spirits at bay more. For instance, I hardly looked at the news while on vacation and when I did, it made me tense, because most news reports are designed to have alarming-sounding headlines and focused on disasters to grab a viewer’s attention. I often check the news multiple times a day but I am now determined to check much less often.
On vacations, we wake up looking forward to what will be good about that day. In normal day-to-day living, when we have many of responsibilities, we focus our day on things that have to be done to avert disaster or failure. What if we could get up every day focusing on the good things the Lord has put in our paths, rejoicing in that, and be less affected by worry?
One result of that lack of anxiety is that I got many more sermon ideas when doing my daily reading than I usually do. Because there was not that background anxiety and because I was not looking at my watch while I did my reading, aware of the next thing that needed to happen, I was able to let my mind be lifted up and guided by the Lord, and so had many more insights.
Your takeaways from your vacation may be very different from mine. But my guess is that if we each pay attention we would find ways in which the Lord is working miracles in us when we take time off. As ever, the Lord uses each moment to draw us deeper, to think about others with more love and compassion.

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