The calendar has flipped to June. Summer. The weather was ahead of the calendar by a few weeks. The kids are out of school. The teachers are catching up on their sleep. And you are probably heading out of town. Some of you we will see back when the weather cools, whenever that happens in south Georgia. It’s time for time away, time off, time to do what you please, and time, hopefully, for rest and renewal rather than time to burn your candle down even faster.
God is good with vacations. He built vacation time and rest time into his plans for you. There is the weekly rest he calls a Sabbath. By the way, “Sabbath” is from a Hebrew word that means “to stop”. Routinely we stop our work and do something that isn’t work. We engage in pleasures. We rest. We celebrate. We worship. We do so because all the work in all the world needing to be done is. It is finished. We can finally rest. God built other rests into our calendar. The Jewish calendar is full of celebrations and gathers. Three of the annual celebrations required travel: Passover, Tabernacle, and Pentecost. The Feast of Tabernacles is especially interesting to me. The whole nation was required to for a week, move out of their homes and build little shelters to live in for a week. The whole nation was told to go camping. There’s more. There is the year of Jubilees every fiftieth year when the clock was reset on everything. Debts were to be cancelled, prisoners released, land went back to its original owners. Everything was the way it was supposed to be. Happening every fifty years each person could see at least once in their lifetime, what God’s world was supposed to look like.
Jesus also seems to think rest is important. When you study the life of Jesus, looking particularly at his travels, its interesting to note that at least three times during the three years of his ministry he left Israel and spent time in Gentile areas. Why would he do this when his ministry was focused primarily on the Jews? The answer appears to be rest. There are other places in the Bible where we see Jesus focus on rest. In Mark 6:31 we are told there were so many people coming and going constantly to see Jesus that he and the disciples didn’t even have time to eat. Jesus tells them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Yes, there are needs. Yes, there is a world to save. But sometimes you have to go away and get some rest so you have something to give it.
Here’s how to take a vacation. Go by yourselves, you and those closest to you. Go to a quiet place. Go with Jesus. Do not leave Jesus behind. The goal is not escape. The goal is rest. The goal is recreation. That last word, how did you read it? Recreation as play and laughter and fun or recreation as renewing and rebuilding and remaking. There is a reason they are the same word. But to really recreate you have to take Jesus with you. You pray and you are thankful and you enjoy and you find this is what God wanted you to do all along.