- Scott Marsh
A Restful Vacation
I have spoken with several people over the last couple of months who have been on or are planning to go on vacation. The general feeling seems to be that after a year of “sheltering in place” during the pandemic, everyone is ready to get away from the stress of daily life and to find rest and relaxation at some desirable destination. I am certainly no exception, as I recently returned from a family vacation to sunny Florida.
It is good to rest. It is needed. There is a grind to our daily lives that can weary our bodies, trouble our minds, and burden our souls. When we are intentional about setting aside time to escape the daily grind, we afford ourselves the opportunity to rest, rejuvenate, and regain the strength to continue our daily efforts. These, of course, are the benefits that we consider when we are planning a vacation. What is also worthy of our consideration, however, are the potential pitfalls.
As followers of Christ, we are to be a dutiful people. However, we do not perform our duties merely from a sense of obligation, but because the love Christ as shown to us in the Gospel “controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Though it is important to acknowledge that all our duties are to be performed in service to God (Colossians 3:23), there are duties required of us that are explicitly Godward. These are the duties that are performed in relation to God’s ordained means of grace. The means of grace are God’s appointed instruments by which the Holy Spirit enables believers to receive Christ and the benefits of redemption. These are the Word (especially the Word preached), prayer, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s table (Westminster Shorter Catechism q.88). We are commanded by God to make faithful and diligent use of the means He has appointed (1Thess. 5:17, Heb. 10:25, Acts 2:38, Luke 22:19).
So, how do we reconcile the need for a vacation from our daily duties with the duty to attend daily upon the ordained means? The answer is to have always in view the Glory of Christ found in the Gospel. When we faithfully read and hear the Word preached and rightly consider Christ’s goodness and mercy in purchasing our redemption, then we are compelled by the Spirit to worship Him. This is a worship from which there is no vacation, nor the need of vacation. This is the saint’s delight (Ps. 37:4). This is peace and rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
This worship should be at the center of your vacation. The worship that occurs in our church and regularly in your home should be continued during your time away. The spiritual disciplines you practice in your daily life should be continued faithfully. The unique and novel surroundings and experiences of your trip should be enjoyed with thanksgiving to God and a proper acknowledgement of His goodness in providing them. A vacation well-spent is one from which you return not only having had a reprieve from the daily grind but also having had your mind and soul renewed in Christ.