I’m back. Did you know I was gone?
Some folks here at CrossLife knew I was on vacation the last two weeks. A few of my neighbors did. My wife, Cara, and I traveled to the Wisconsin north woods to enjoy some beautiful lake settings. One with a small group of ministry friends. Another with our sons, daughters-in-law and granddaughters.
It was the first full 2-week vacation I’ve taken in my ministry. And if you’re on the church board and reading this, two things: 1) thank you, and 2) I can’t wait to do it again!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my church and my neighbors. Just like Jesus loved the widows, the sick, his friends Mary and Martha and Lazarus, and the crowds he taught. But sometimes, Jesus got away to the lake.
“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake” (Mark 3:7).
I realized the importance of getting away, especially in our pandemic-focused existence right now. I’m thankful to God and others for these three benefits.
1) Turned Off
Getting away allowed me to turn off email and social media. These communication tools aren’t evil, but they tend to desire a higher priority in my heart and schedule than they deserve.
Jesus turned off good, well-meaning, friendly voices in the crowd by getting away to the lake with his disciples. Oh, he’d return. He’d take care of them in love. But leaving them in his Father’s hands for a while was helpful.
Get away. Go somewhere. Maybe vacation, or maybe a day trip. Go out and about and purposefully turn off your device.
2) Tuned In
I read a good book while on vacation, and a few magazines, too. I played games. I went fishing. I snuggled with my granddaughters and sat by a bonfire with my kids and stayed up past my bedtime and slept irresponsibly late (but only a couple times).
In order to do these things, I also turned off some of my normal routines. These are good, healthy routines but sometimes getting away from them—just for a short time—is even healthier.
Mostly, I tuned into the everyday blessings of God. The scenery I enjoyed during a motorcycle trip back in Texas, the breeze on my face while sitting on the front patio by the lake, the smell of pine, the laughter of family, the companionship of a spouse.
Get away. Go somewhere. Maybe vacation, or maybe a day trip. Go out and about and purposefully tune into people, experiences and all God’s blessings that you’d miss otherwise.
3) Touched Up
The fresh air rejuvenated my spirit. That’s what getting away does. While away—during quiet moments—I found my thinking to be clearer and more creative. Many of the thoughts were about what I wanted to do back at home or at church. Those thoughts didn’t possess me, but became ideas that I’m already implementing for improvement.
So I’m touching things up, as God directs and desires.
Get away. Go somewhere. Maybe vacation, or maybe a day trip. Go out and about and let your mind wander freely. Take those thoughts home with you and enjoy putting them into action.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, you left the crowds and spent quality time with your disciples. Lead me to release what I hold too firmly, or can’t see objectively, and to get away from it for a while. Bring me back with fresh vision and a freed spirit, refreshed and ready to live a new life for you. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Slow down, and use the PRAY acronym.
- Praise (tell God what you appreciate about getting away in the past)
- Repent (tell God about your sins of being too dependent on daily circumstances, trust in his promises of forgiveness)
- Ask (seek God’s guidance about getting away, where, when and with whom)
- Yield (talk to God about the next step after you say “Amen,” how you want faith to lead the way, how you are willing to be part of his answer and see it develop for your good)