If you had a few days without work or any other obligations, what would you do? If you had a week to go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Last week, I had a chance to visit with a friend I only see 1-2x each year and we eventually got to what vacations we have taken or plan to take this next year, as we both like to travel. Another friend who is very busy during tax season also takes a vacation when things have calmed down in late April. What’s the point of taking vacations? Is it to brag to your friends about what you have done, to take the family to a new place, to add another thing to the ‘to do’ list, or maybe even to rest? All of the above? Everyone is a little different in what they prefer to do on vacation, as some like to relax and others take in as much as possible. My default is the latter, as I like to see and do as much as able with little chance of overload, especially when far away from home, but I have come to appreciate the opportunity to rest as well. How often do you take a break from your normal routine? What’s the point?
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2
Have you ever felt isolated from the rest of the world? Maybe it was when you were far away from home, or on a hike in the wilderness without any one around for miles, but you felt far apart from everyone else. It may not be as extreme as the Maine Hermit, who went 27 years with only 1 other human encounter, but most of us have taken time to get away from our normal routine. I recall a mission trip I was on in the Bolivian jungle when we were a 3 hour drive or boat ride from the nearest town of 2,000 people, seemingly far away from civilization. Just yesterday, I took 15 minutes during a lunch break in Centerville and went for a walk along a trail into the woods along the edge of town. This gave me a chance to slow down, refocus, reflect with God, and energized me for the rest of my busy day. Sometimes, just closing the door and turning off the computer is all we need to take a few quiet minutes to do the same. Do you recognize the need to take a break during a busy season, or even on a hectic day?
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
When we don’t have a chance to step away from the work before us, whether that be ministry, our job, taking care of others, or other obligations, we can become burned out. We can get physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted if we overextend ourselves in a number of ways. We may not always recognize our own need to take a break before we have overdone it, but others may see it in us. Look to the example Jesus gave us in his 3 year ministry. He knew he only had a limited amount of time and ministered to many, but not to everyone. He often took time and went away by himself to pray and seek direction from his Father. Should we not do the same?
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Following time away with God, the response is not more seclusion, but almost always a call to action of some sort, directed by God. Christ was rested and refocused to continue his mission and ministry. Remember when Elijah wanted to run away from everyone because life was so overwhelming? What happened? He rested and spoke with God, who empowered him to finish his mission instead of giving up. Every time I go on a 2 day retreat or even take 10 minutes in the middle of my day to pray and wait on the Lord, He calls me to action in some way, and gives me the knowledge and encouragement to go forward. So, the next time you get to take a vacation, or even just a break from your daily burdens, ask the tough questions of God and let him guide you in your next steps. When we are in step with his Spirit, the work before us does not seem as daunting and the path ahead is one taken by steps of faith, regardless of where it leads. Walk with boldness when you are walking with Him!
Strength in Christ,