GUEST Amy Jacks: Taking Jesus on Family Vacation
“You could win a free vacation!” Oh, how we love to dream about that, but usually our vacations are not free. We all need some time to get away—to escape. On our vacations (or escapes) what is really important to remember? At the April meeting of MOMS (Mentors Offering Moms Support), Amy Jacks led a discussion about Family Vacations. I (Pastor Conrad) asked her to put her notes into a blog and I hope you find it helpful as the moms did the night of the meeting.
“Taking Jesus on Family Vacation” by Amy Jacks
MOMS (Mentors Offering Moms Support)
Jesus was backwards, right? Love your enemies, turn the other cheek… So tonight we’re going to talk about vacation in a backwards kind of way – countercultural – set apart. As Christians, Jesus tells us we will be set apart. Our discussion about vacations might make you squirm a little. I was convicted of some of the things as I was preparing for tonight. But it’s exciting when God wants to stretch us and grow us. And becoming more like Him hurts sometimes but it’s always good and it’s always for His glory.
In everything we do, as Christians, we should go to God’s Word. We need to ask: Am I making choices and decisions based on what I want and what’s “normal” or am I making decisions based on what God wants?
So what is vacation? Does scripture say I deserve a vacation? What about “me time”? Don’t I need that in order to be a “good” mom?
I’m not a Bible scholar but in my limited wisdom this is what I’ve learned:
- Bad news first: Me time in the Bible = Selfishness (ouch!), focusing on myself is not dying to self as we’re called to do as believers in Christ
- Good news: God knows our worn out mom days, tired wife duties, and weary bodies and He gives us REST!
Let’s look at what God has to say about rest and then I promise we’ll talk more about vacation:
Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Psalm 127:1-2 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep tothose he loves.
Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Susanna Wesley was the mother of John Wesley (founder of Methodist movement) and mother of 19 children. She had a strong faith in God and believed strongly in daily prayer. If she could not find a private place in the house to pray, she put her apron over her head as a sign to the children to be extra quiet, mom was praying. She is a wonderful testimony to finding rest during busy days.
And God gives us Sabbath rest – yeah! God is so good! We could spend an entire evening talking about the God designed weekly day of rest. But we’ll just focus on a few components.
Exodus 31:12-13 12 Then the LORD said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.”
Sabbath rest gives us break from work (our daily and weekly “normal” tasks), allows us to draw closer to God, have prayer, Bible study, and a time of corporate worship. All of this gives us a renewed relationship with our heavenly Father. This special day is designed for “the generations to come” to see and know God – a set apart day.
So tired moms, He gives us rest! He doesn’t give us permission to be selfish and carry a feeling of entitlement to our rest, but He does give us rest when we’re weary. The question is: Do we need a vacation in the way that we use that word today? But is it wrong? Unbiblical? Please don’t tell me I have to give up vacations!
Mark 6:30-32 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Here we see that the apostles hadn’t even had time to eat and Jesus took them to a place of rest and solitude. We also know God ordained feasts and festivals, such as Passover. God provides rest for His people.
So in studying, I know rest is not unbiblical. Although the Bible never uses the term ‘vacation’ as we use the word today, I don’t see scriptural references that state vacations are wrong. So how can vacations be God-honoring and allow us rest in Him as He talks about rest in scripture? Because in everything we do, we need to look at where our heart is and how can we take Him with us whether it’s to the grocery store, a baseball game, or Hawaii!
Where is my heart as I prepare for vacation? Am I craving selfish “me time”? Have I been “resting” in Him during the week and actively participating in weekly Sabbath rest? Am I making vacation an idol – something that will “fill me up” until the next break or in a way that will make me happy in ways I don’t trust Christ can?
How can Jesus be my focus?
I think there are at least 4 things we should “pack” when going on vacation.
1. Holiness “Be holy for I am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
Exodus 32:1-6 1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us godswho will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” 2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
When Moses had been gone longer than expected, the Israelites reverted to sinful behaviors. They had time on their hands and they forgot about being holy. Freedom on vacation is not freedom of who we are in Christ. I think there are some warnings in this that apply to vacations. Am I guarding my eyes from the movies and shows I watch while on vacation? Am I being holy in the things I say to others when on vacation? Am I honoring Him in the way I dress or do I think none of my Christian friends are around so it doesn’t matter if I dress immodestly? My heart needs to continually be focused on Him.
2. Faithfulness “Follow my (Paul) example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
God is faithful and we need to be Christ-like! Am I being faithful to Christ on vacation? Am I living like I say I’m living? Am I spending time with Him on vacation? If I’m too busy to read my Bible on normal days, shouldn’t my vacation time include resting in Him? What about my eating/(drinking??) habits? Is overindulgence for myself or my children really an act of treating my body as a holy temple?
God also wants me to be faithful in obeying God in the instruction of my children. “Vacation” is not a break from discipling my children. (Deut 6:4-9) Am I training them in righteousness on vacation and being consistent or am I making excuses for their poor behavior because of lack of sleep and extra sugar that I’ve put in their system? Family vacations are a wonderful time to incorporate family worship, one-on-one dates with kids, and speaking of God’s goodness on the trip.
A highlight for our family has been visiting other churches on vacation. Is it always easy with young children – no way! But we’ve always been blessed by being faithful to worshipping with a body of believers, seeing new or different ways to worship, and fellowshipping with others.
Lastly, am I being faithful to God with our finances for vacations? Certainly we shouldn’t be using God’s money to go on vacation and we should stay within our budget while on vacation. Some of our favorite “low budget” vacations include day trips, staying with family and friends in a new location, and camping.
3. Love 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
Doing all these things in 1 Corinthians is impossible without the Holy Spirit and it can still be very hard even when we ask Him for it. But I think it’s a key component to vacations. Am I loving my husband as we prepare for the vacation? Am I listening to what he would like our family to do? Am I being respectful if he doesn’t want to spend as much money as I do or go where I want to go? Are we approaching this time of “rest” as a united front?
Vacations are a wonderful time to build family relationships with immediate and extended family members. Am I loving these individuals in ways that will create pleasurable memories or not? And I think it is important while on vacation to not forget the lost and to share the love of Jesus with everyone we meet. We can teach our children (and ourselves) to not use vacation time as self-indulgence, but instead, as a way to love others and to seek out opportunities to serve.
4. Joy “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
What’s my overall attitude as I prepare and while I’m on vacation? It’s been said many times that the mom sets the tone in the home – this goes for vacations, too. Am I content when it rains? What if the condo does not look like it did online or my children are throwing up?! Remember, I’m not entitled to this vacation! But I can receive whatever comes as a gift and rest in it!
So in closing, am I preparing for vacations in a backwards, Jesus, kind of way, or am I approaching vacations as the world approaches them with a sense of entitlement? Am I focusing on His Holy rest daily and on Sundays, or am I trying to use the next vacation as a way to “fill me up” in ways I don’t trust Christ can? Am I using vacations as a time to disciple and train my children in righteousness or do I view my children as burdens to “my” vacation?
Let’s pray that God will give us the boldness to be countercultural with our vacations and to approach them with holiness, faithfulness, love, and joy!