We went on vacation for the last 2 weeks and it was the most refreshing vacation we have ever had. All of us have come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and honestly, with a greater love for Jesus and people than when we departed. There was so much that happened from a great time visiting my parents in Houston to spending a week in Austin and attending the Verge Conference.
While Verge was amazing, it was the connections with people outside the conference that provided us great wisdom and as I reflected on the trip, I felt like God has taught me so much about what vacations and rest are all about. So here’s 10 quick-hits about what I’ve learned about rest. There really 1 major shift and 9 brief thoughts.
1 Major Shift
1. Don’t Work for the Weekend, Weekend for the Work
I’ve always thought of rest as something I do when I’m exhausted, that I need to work hard until I’m exhausted and then I need to rest. While this is true, it’s only half-true.
I don’t plan to unpack the whole theology of Sabbath rest, but when we look at the creation account in scripture, God rests from His work and we are told to do the same. But looking at the order of things, man/woman were made on the 6th day, rested on the 7th and then go to work. We rest from the work that we’ve done, but also for the work that is to come.
This is a big shift in my thinking. Instead of working for the weekend, as if I was ultimately made for rest and work keeps me from it, I’m weekending to maintain the pace of the work. This recognizes that God has made me for work, designed me to know Him and make Him known. The task is great, so I need to rest in God, connecting with Him daily, weekly, on extended vacations to come back more in love with Jesus so that I can actually love people with the message and mercy of Christ.
9 Other Thoughts on Sabbath, mini-sabbaths, and vacationing
2. Rest is different from escape
Rest means meeting with Jesus through various means, escape means serving of self through various means. One is about Jesus, the other about self. Escaping from work breeds escapism from responsibility, but pursuit of God breeds pursuit of things true and good. One gives actual rest, the other provides a momentary break. One satisfies the need for being refreshed, the other creates a bigger need.
3. TV can be a life-suck
Listen, I love TV, Netflix and movies as much as the next guy, but when TV becomes my way of rest, it only sucks more life out of me. We no longer have cable and while I miss Sportscenter, I can find other ways to watch highlights and sporting events. I’ve come to realize how disengaging the mind through TV watching does not provide the rest I’m ultimately looking for and leaves me just as tired.
4. My Morning & Night-time routines need to change
New York can be a very high pace lifestyle where the weeks fly by without you even realizing it. While I can’t maintain the morning and night-time routines of vacation, I can reorient what I do and when I do it to provide greater energy and actually be rested for the days to come.
5. Rest is about energy management
I think this is intuitive, but knowing what gives you energy may not be what you think of as you consider how to pursue rest. This idea has led me to change how I manage my weeks as well when it comes to what drains me and what refreshes me.
6. Daily time in prayer and the Word has everything to do with meeting Jesus and nothing to do with accomplishment
Christians talk about this idea of a quiet time or other cute name that is taking time to read the scriptures and pray to God. There’s about 5,000 different devotional reading plans that you could do. I have grown to love The Daily Office which walks through Psalms, Old Testament Reading, & New Testament reading.
My engineer, achiever mind likes to make this the foundation of my relationship with God as an accomplishment rather than connecting with God. So when/if I do it, God loves/is disappointed with me. But the scriptures and prayer are not about completion or knowledge gaining, they are about knowing and following God. This could happen in 5 minutes or it could happen in 2 ½ hours. Finishing and moving on isn’t the goal, meeting with God for as long as that happens is the goal.
7. Christian community can be a place of immense rest
Community takes boldness in asking open-ended challenging questions though which makes me so thankful for the time I had with me who didn’t want to start with my accomplishments, but start with my attitude and heart. Asking questions about my prayer life, what God is teaching me, how my marriage and family is, communicates a care and concern that makes me feel loved. It’s refreshing and it never gets old.
8. Giving rest to others is restful for you
Giving life to others, truth to others, hope to others is amazing. Jesus spends many Sabbaths healing people and angering the religious leaders of His day by loving people despite their legalistic restrictions. Our vacation involved a give and take in relationships, where we received much wisdom and encouragement from friends, but we were also able to offer great encouragement and hope to others. This just continued to pound home the theme of selflessness in understanding Sabbath rest.
9. Engaging fully in the moment is where you find rest
My brain likes to wander to the things undone or the things I want to be done rather than being fully engaged in putting together a puzzle with my sons. There are other times when I go into a phone coma, drawn to the potential amazing thoughts being tweeted.
I’ve come to notice that when I stop wandering in my mind and fully engage in the current conversation or the current activity, even as small as my sons’ puzzles, I find myself more relaxed and enjoying life.
But the only way I can be fully engaged is by being intentional with the work for the week and the plan for rest on the weekend.
10. We all find rest differently
My wife loves to be around people. It is the most refreshing and reviving thing for her. That means it is my privilege and my way of living with her in an understanding way to cultivate that for her to find rest. And when we can’t find a crowd, I get the honor of filling that role.
But I find rest in deep relationships. I’m refreshed by connecting in deep conversations or prayer with people. I leave those times more in love with Jesus and with a greater desire to be like Christ for others.
We all find rest differently, but the overriding point is that we all need rest.
For me, as a Christian, my love for Jesus and people will only be maintained when I set aside daily mini-sabbaths, weekly Sabbath, and pursue a vacation that will provide rest.
My whole family has come back enjoying the gospel of Jesus Christ more which in turn has enabled us to love others and extend His message and mercy. It feels great.