Most of my favorite summer memories involve family vacations. Camping at Silver Lake, swimming at the sand dunes, John and Diane Windle’s puppets at family camp, bike rides for donuts, the smell of suntan lotion, and M&M Peanuts. When I was a boy, our family would share a half gallon of cookies and cream ice cream on the boat dock. Dad would let us finish it all because there was no freezer to keep it! Anybody for seconds?!
During a high school missions choir trip to England my sister Denise Lane and I made the nicest friends named the Hunter family. They would come visit us in the US while on “holiday.” Mr. Hunter was so tall he made my dad look like Barney Rubble, so we called the two of them Fred and Barney. Watching them race in go carts was hilarious! But we learned from the Hunters that what we call vacation, the British call “holiday.”
Recently I heard Pastor Stuart Briscoe talking about the need to take a break from time to time. He challenged us to be intentional about how we spend this time away from our normal routine. He shared the word “vacation” can mean to vacate or be vacant, to shut off and try to forget. Maybe we try to live in a fantasy world only to crash back into reality. “Holiday” on the other hand comes from our Christian heritage, taking time off to remember holy days.
In the Old Testament we see patterns of rest in the requirements of the Jewish Law. God asked His people to observe seven breaks. There were daily Selah breaks, a weekly Sabbath, a monthly New Moon day, three yearly week long Festivals, four other Feast days, the seven year Sabbaticals, and the 50th year of Jubilee.
But what grabbed my attention as Pastor Briscoe talked about these “Holy Days” in Scripture was what God asked them to do during these times. They were to take a break from routine to be intentional about three things: Spiritual Transformation, Family Team Building, and Relaxation. Or more simply put, a rest to pursue intimacy with God and intimacy with family. The week-long festivals involved a pilgrimage. And the Festival of Shelters was basically a camping trip to remember how they lived when God brought them through the wilderness. A reminder that this earth was not their home, they were simply passing through, and God would provide everything they needed.
I hope you have at least a week of vacation or holy days this year (I think Scripture would recommend three!). I hope you can leave your home and remember where God has brought you from. I hope you can travel and be with your spouse and children and parents and siblings. And I hope you can have time to rest and experience the love and peace and joy that overflows from our relationship with Jesus through His Holy Spirit within us.
Happy Summer Vacations! Or should we say, Happy Family Holidays!