Time to Vacate

Like most people, we look forward to a couple of weeks a year when we can get away from the everyday responsibilities of work and home—“vacation” as we call it. In a matter of hours, we will have left behind the drab, chilly upper Midwest for the warmer climes of the Gulf of Mexico coast. My wife and I look forward to times of extended rest, opportunities to read and reflect, having some good conversation, enjoying food that someone else cooks, long walks in the sand, and the warm sunshine.

I had a ministry colleague one time who loathed vacations. He and his wife always had to go visit family, and it wasn’t very pleasant. Further, he said, he hated all the work to get ready, the travel, the waste of money, and then the piles of work waiting when he returned. If he had his way, he told me, he’d never take a vacation! I felt sorry for him. Most of all, I hope never to be so jaded!

A few colleagues I’ve known rather prided themselves on doing what my other friend wanted to do: never taking a vacation…or even a day off! “There’s too much important work to be done—we have eternity for vacations!” Yeah, seems like those are the guys who enter it early: heart attacks, strokes…. You ever know anyone like that? The guys I knew always seemed so grouchy and tired.

Then there are those who seem to live for vacation. The rest of life is drudgery. They hate their jobs, where they live, their everyday routine and responsibilities. So for 50 weeks of the year, they look forward to—they live for—two. Sadly, too often the experience doesn’t live up to the expectation.

A really good perspective on it all is to realize that God built “vacation time” into the structure of life for the nation of Israel. In addition to the weekly Sabbath, where no work was to be done, every seven years they were to let their fields lie fallow and take the year off from the normal cycle of plowing, planting, and harvesting. More than that, though, every year’s calendar included a few weeks set aside for pilgrim feasts or festivals. One of those, Passover, is coming up pretty soon and was an early “vacation.” Several weeks later came Pentecost, and several months later—at the end of the agricultural year—was the “Feast of Tabernacles.” This last one is interesting. It was like a week-long camping trip, as families would leave their home, journey to Jerusalem, and set up “tents” made of branches—all to remember the exodus from Egypt.

Anyway, the point is, the Lord specifically told his people that they were to leave their everyday work life behind, “vacate” home for several days, and rest…reflect…rejuvenate.

So, vaguely following some of the pattern of this old covenant structure, my wife and I are on our way. Hope you’ll make time for it, too.