I recently took a short vacation to my daughter’s house in another state.
I had a wonderful time with her and my son-in-law, and two grandchildren. As I was driving home, which would take many hours in the car, I had lots of time to reflect.
I enjoyed not having to wake up at any time, or go to bed at any reasonable time.
I enjoyed eating out and seeing new things.
As I was thinking about this good time, my mind drifted to other vacations I have taken.
I have enjoyed the beaches of Florida.
I have enjoyed the rocky coasts of Oregon and Washington.
I have enjoyed the awesomeness of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.
So,what’s my point? (there is a clue in each of the lines listed above). It’s that I tend to “grade” vacations as to what they meant to me. (notice the frequency of “I” in the statements above). What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What is fun to me? .etc. Its like having a party mindset, where all that is important is about my having a good time.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an extremist. I mentioned earlier that I enjoy taking vacations. In fact, I would go so far as to think that vacations are necessary for all of us, so that our bodies and minds can be rested and re-energized and we can balance out all the stresses that we experience in our every day lives.
So, again, what’s my point with this post? Well, as I was driving back from my daughter’s house, I had lots of time to think about vacations. I thought much about how enjoyable they can be and how I can desire more of them. In fact, retirement (about 10-15 years away) stirs up in my mind a “promise land” dream of 24/7 365 days a year, vacation
As I was thinking through these thoughts and my emphasis on “I”, something just didn’t seem to feel quite right. Why all the emphasis on me? As a Christian, I understand I should be concerned about others also.
I have learned over the years that life tends to be most orderly when then there is some kind of balance,, not a strict one-sided point of view.
As I thought further about this whole concept of taking vacations (with the idea of taking vacations and enjoying my retirement as the ultimate “vacation mindset”—a dream so many people have), I thought what is the opposite of the pursuit of the R & R perspective. What does having balance look like on this topic?
For one, I thought that there are many people who don’t have the finances to be able to take vacations, which produced a feeling of gratefulness that I have been able to take, actually many enjoyable vacations. (It was also a bit humbling to see how easily I can take things for granted).
I also found myself thinking about a Bible verse that says, “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.” Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 nlt
Now, that verse was kind of shocking huh and quite the opposite of a vacation-mindset, right?
But, that’s the point. I want to be wise, rather than foolish. I would think we all do. I want to live a life that’s “better” and who better to give advice on how we should live it than the creator and sustainer of life- God?
Now, I don’t think the verses mentioned above suggest that we should be just hanging out at funeral homes. But, what I do think it is talking about is that “it is better” to live life embracing the sobering realities of this life. People die. People have accidents. People have unfortunate things happen to them. Life is not all about our having fun. Enjoyment of things has its place, no doubt, but I believe life will become more meaningful to us when we are engaged with others, standing by them during the tough times of life–when we are ministering to them.
To live in this grace-filled kind of way is a testimony of God’s working in us. It’s an evidence of our understanding that we realize life is not all about us.
Jesus Christ is an example to me regarding living this life out in balance. He clearly lived a life on behalf others. His life’s mission was that He should serve, not be served. His life was about sacrificial ministry to others.
But, at one time, while ministering, He heard about the terrible death of His friend, John the Baptist. The Bible says, “When Jesus hears what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Matthew 14:13a NIV).
Jesus needed time away. He needed, if you will, a vacation. This time away was not an event He planned on with the goal of His having fun, it was a provision that He took advantage of to support His true life’s purpose -serving others and being about His Father’s work for Him. I think that is a good pattern for my life as well.
So, the question I must answer (and you, too), if I want to maximize my time on earth, should I be moving more in the direction of pursuing my own fun, and striving after a vacation kind of lifestyle or should I believe God’s Word that says it is better to have a sober mindset that should motivate me to be not only aware of the needs of others, but also willing to sacrifice my pleasures to meet those needs? It is a radical change of mind that is driven by a “it’s not about me” attitude. Understanding that, I recognize that view can only come by the grace of God because few, if any people would be so selfless.
To have this other-centered mindset will be hard work, but I seek to faithfully give my best effort to living with a God-centered, eternal mindset. It will make the vacations that I do take all the more enjoyable.