Believe and Rest: Five Thoughts On Resting Well On Vacation

My family and I are heading up to northern Minnesota on Saturday for a week-long vacation. The past few weeks I’ve tried to think through what it means to rest well on vacation.

Here are five thoughts to help me (and maybe you) honor God by resting well on vacation.

Actually Rest From Your Work

First, the obvious one. You need to actually rest from your work. That means disconnecting from your work. Don’t take work with you. Turn off the email notifications on your phone or device. Ask your co-workers not to text or call while you’re gone. And if you’re a co-worker of someone going on vacation, help them rest well by not contacting them during their vacation.

Don’t Place Your Hope in Your Vacation

Second, don’t expect your vacation to do more than God intends for it.

Marie and I have talked multiple times over the past few weeks about how excited we are for this vacation. We’re both ready for a break from the stress of our jobs. The craziness and upheaval of the past several months has helped us look forward to some time away from our routines.

But while we are on vacation all that stress is still there at our jobs waiting for us to return. So really, a vacation itself never solves the stress of your day-to-day life. It just delays it.

It’s certainly great to be excited for a vacation. But don’t place on your vacation a burden it’s not intended to bear. Just like we can’t find our ultimate hope in our careers, our spouse, our children, our politics, or ourselves, we can’t expect to get from our vacation what only Jesus can give us. If you look to your vacation to solve problems at home, it will crush your vacation and you won’t rest during it.

Understanding that Jesus Christ is your peace will help you rest better before, during, and after your vacation.

Plan To Listen

Third, since peace is found in the person of Jesus Christ, keep looking to him during your vacation. Don’t view your vacation as a break from your daily devotional time, but instead as a way to refresh or rekindle it. Vacations help us get away from the noise of our daily lives, which gives us a great opportunity to maybe hear God more clearly. So make plans to do some listening. If you’re already doing a Bible reading plan or devotion, keep doing it over vacation. If you haven’t been doing a regular devotion time, plan to start one.

Roll With It

Fourth, fill your itinerary with grace.

I’ve realized over the years that I tend to become a slave to my routine. I tend to get angry when something disrupts my routine, a clear sign my routine could be approaching idol status in my life. While a vacation helps me get out of my routine, I can still replace my routine with the plans we make for the vacation. I then tend to get upset when something forces us to change our plans.

This is one specific area I’m praying about for me personally. I’m asking for God’s grace to help me remember that not everything goes as I planned. I will rest better – and my family will rest better – if I roll with the unexpected disruptions instead of getting angry at them. A grace-filled itinerary will help you rest.

Have Fun

Finally, have fun. This one is also a personal reminder for me. I know it’s probably a sad commentary on my personality when I have to remind myself to have fun, but I also know myself well enough to know that I need this reminder.

Laugh. Try new things. Do familiar things that bring you joy. Relax.

Rest is a Grace from God

God knows our tendency to want to do all the work ourselves. He knows we tend to forget about him and carry our burdens ourselves. He knows we cling to things we don’t need to cling to. He knows we overestimate our abilities and underestimate his.

This is why he commands us to rest. Not once a year. But every single week. “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

In our sin, we’ve even turned resting into a burden. It can seem hard to take a day each week to simply trust God and rest. It can seem even harder sometimes to take a week or longer to rest as well. We even joke about needing a vacation from our vacations.

But rest in this life is a grace from God. May our vacations help us long more deeply for the true and final rest we have in Jesus Christ. As the author of Hebrews writes, “For we who have believed enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:3)

So believe and rest, even on vacation.

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