by Pastor Mike Gillen, Bowling Green First, Eolia, and Oak Grove UMC
I love the idea of a vacation. I enjoy thinking about escaping from my regular routine. I like imagining myself walking on a beach, splashing in the surf or picking up shells early in the morning.
It’s fun to daydream about a vacation, especially when it’s months or weeks away. The excitement within me builds as each day passes and the first day of the trip gets closer.
As I write this I’m on a vacation to see my brother and his family. My family and I are in a big city, staying in a large hotel. My kids love the hotel pool and would be happy if I let them spend the entire trip in it. To them vacation is an escape to a hotel pool.
We’ve been planning this summer trip for months. I’ve talked with my brother about the things we all want to do and not do.
We’ll eat at his family’s favorite pizza place. We’ll go bowling and swimming together. My kids will love playing with their cousins. We’ll do our best to have a great time.
For me, the idea of a vacation is always a little different than the reality of the trip. I’m glad to get away from some of the responsibilities of everyday life. And I like the adventure of being somewhere I’m different.
But vacations always have another side for me. The days seem to pass faster than I want. Escaping from reality only lasts for so long. Even though we’ve just started our trip I know it’ll be over in a blink and I’ll be driving back to Missouri before I know it.
Vacations are meant to be a temporary escape from reality, even though there’s never a complete escape from the roles and responsibilities of life.
But for me, vacations are an important way to keep my sanity. I need time away from my regular world. I get refocused and refreshed. Sometimes I gain perspective on what I want to do when I get back to the real world.
And on vacations I relearn some valuable lessons that I take back to everyday life. I’m reminded of a place in the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus spends a lot of time ministering to people.
Then Jesus gets up early the next morning, before sunrise, and finds a solitary place to pray. The Bible doesn’t say why Jesus got away. I imagine Jesus wanted to get away form everyone else, to remove himself from distractions so that he could pray.
For me vacations teach me that it’s important to get away from life’s responsibilities to be alone with God. Most vacation days I find a few minutes early in the morning for solitary prayer.
There’s something about our world that discourages quietness and being alone. We build technologies that fill our lives with sound and constantly connect us to the entire world in an instant.
Every vacation I’m reminded of how we’re made to need time alone. The soul is strengthened by times of quiet, solitude, and different routines. God can find us more open to inspiration when daily life is interrupted.
As I said, I enjoy the idea of a good vacation. I think God has planted in me a desire to get away for a time from the regular life I’ve been given. Maybe God has given you the same desire.
Take a page out of Jesus’ book and take time to get away. Find a quiet place away from people, cell phones or daily responsibilities and talk with God. I wonder what God will give you when you get away?