Theology 101

How To Have Your Best Getaway Ever

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Our dining room table is stacked high with travel gear. Later today, I will unbury the cartop carrier and fasten it to our minivan’s roof. My wife has crafted the mile-long list of must-go items. We are packing to go on a week-long vacation. I am very grateful, quite aware that we are extra-blessed with time and resources for such a getaway. But honestly, I find myself asking:

Will the coming days be truly restorative? I’ve had a busy year; my bones and soul feel depleted.

Will I truly unplug? It’s easy to let all the devices and still-must-dos keep chasing me.

Will my family feel like I am generously present? It’s possible to be on the beach, in the woods, or at the table, but not be truly present with focused, hearty engagement.

If you’re planning an upcoming trip, perhaps anticipating time away over Labor Day or another upcoming holiday, you can likely relate to my internal wondering.

Don’t Forget To Pack Perspective

Here’s my million-dollar Q: What outlook should I pack

What’s essential to my perspective in order to truly rejoice and restore across the coming days? What will bring Jesus deep joy in my attitude and actions across the time away? After all, he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

I am reminded of this foundational truth: Rest is good. Really good.

With the crescendo of creation in Genesis 2:2-3, we are told “God finished his work . . . he rested on the seventh day from all his work . . . God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work . . .” Note the poetic repetition and intentional rhythm. Later in Israel’s history, woven into God’s commands for his people, we read: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20:8). Of course, God explained his basis for such a call to remembrance: his own attitude and rest on that very first seventh day.

At its core, Hebrew Shabbat means “cease” or “desist.” Simply stop. It’s a call to break from our normal push and rush to craft, accomplish, build, network, cultivate, sell, coordinate, and otherwise produce. Sabbath is our divine decree to very deliberately change our frantic, mad-dash pace, to more deliberately be instead of endlessly do.

 In Immanuel Labor, Russell Gehrlein queries:

God does not get tired, so why did He rest? Perhaps it was because it was good, which He said at the end of almost every day during the creation process. There was nothing more to add to it. It is likely that Yahweh was setting an example for his people. If He could rest, we could learn to do the same.

If the Lord saw such intentional shift to holy rest as good for our weekly rhythm, then certainly this outlook can be equally life-giving to pack for time away on vacation or over a holiday. Following my Creator’s example, I can change my task-oriented pace and mental focus. A Shabbat outlook is very good and life-giving.

Work vs Rest

Rest is good because it’s God-like. That’s essential to pack in my soul suitcase. But I have a growing awareness there’s something I must intentionally leave behind. As an action-oriented, make-things-happen leader, I really do wrestle with unplugging—truly relaxing and rejuvenating. If I’m honest, such struggle is rooted in the deep-seated, sinister idea that God really loves me most when I’m killing it. I readily assume, “Surely he’s delighted in my performance, production, and overall life output. After all, I feel so satisfied with high-five accomplishment, that thrill of the kill. The Lord must like it as much as I do.” 

Go ahead, chuckle at my silly thinking. You know you’ve thought it too. Right here, I realize what such faulty reasoning reveals: I am ridiculously, mistakenly aiming to make him in my image.

Even though we know we’re saved by grace through faith, many of us still do battle with such a works-oriented outlook. This is crafty, tempting, and debilitating for our normal, everyday work patterns. But it’s doubly-deadly when we let such a diabolical mindset sneak into our getaway luggage. If we take it along, we’re bound to never deeply relax and rejuvenate. 

Randy Kilgore helps with this layer of insight: “We serve a God who loves us more than our labors. The reason we exist is to be in fellowship with God . . . He loves us not for what we do for Him but because we are His children.” As hard-working, holy people, we passionately aim to think and do good works for the glory of God. Our holiday and vacation time is a sacred means for recalling this foundational, grace-grounded truth. The Lord really does love us more than our labors.

The Key To The Best Getaway Ever

Our best getaway ever might be discovered in slower, more deliberate listening and seeing. In Do Nothing to Change Your Life, Stephen Cottrell urges:

So let’s spend more time listening to the things we can’t hear and therefore coming closer to the things we cannot see. This will not only prepare us for heaven, it will enable us to live the life of heaven, the true Sabbath, here on earth . . . in unmasking the illusion that meaning and value can only be found in busyness and so-called productivity; in learning to cherish the present moment, we discover that God can best be found in the silences between the notes; in what is written between the lines. Not through our effort, or hard work, or even our goodness, but in those moments of forgetfulness, of sleeping and dreaming, when we are suddenly caught unawares by the wild and mysterious beauty of the world.

Right now, I need to stop. My reflective writing labor is complete, and I need to go finish packing. I am grateful for such a healthier outlook to take along. 

And I hope your next getaway is packed full of God-like rest, joy, and rejuvenation! 

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