NGYN is back from a much-needed vacation in Gulf Shores, AL, where we and our wives whiled away the past few days soaking up sun, battling waves, and sampling the Gulf’s best cuisine. As we ease back into normal operations here, I thought I’d share a few reflections on rest and relaxation that came to me over the course of our trip:
Rest is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. God designed our bodies to automatically shut down for about a third of every day. He designed trees and plants to fall dormant for a portion of every year. All of creation is made to rest, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about taking some time to recharge your batteries. I, for one, feel clearer-headed and energized than I have in a long time, thanks to just a few days spent without a t0-do list. Which brings me to my next point…
Vacations should be restful, not stressful. There’s a temptation when planning vacations to pack every day full of as much doing and seeing as possible, leaving no time to rest. The Speed Pass that’s a staple of most amusement parks these days is a great illustration of this point. You rent a gizmo that holds your place, guaranteeing you can hop to the front of every line and ride as many rides as you can stomach. What it means, though, is that you pay for the headache of running from one side of the park to another all day long to keep your reservations.
We spend time and money to wear ourselves out and come home even more exhausted than when we left. I’m not saying all vacations should involve laying around all day, but I encourage you to remember why you’re taking a vacation. If it’s because you need some down-time, I suggest tossing the masterfully-crafted agenda in favor of some books, magazines, and a map to your favorite secluded getaway spot. God speaks in a quiet whisper, remember, which is hard to hear over the rattle of a roller coaster.
Vacations re-contextualize things. The sun that set over Gulf Shores our last night there is the same one that sets over Little Rock every other day of the year. Seeing it from Alabama’s sandy shores, though, arm in arm with my beautiful wife with the sound of the waves in my ears (and having just read Donald Miller’s beautiful descriptions of light and nature in Through Painted Deserts) was an almost holy experience. This kind of feeling is not exclusive to the beach. God is in the mountains, too, and in the neon signs of the city, and in the smell of dust and asphalt. We overlook Him, though, in familiar environs. It’s important to leave home now and then to rediscover God’s masterworks, and even more necessary that we not forget those discoveries on our return.
I hope you enjoyed revisiting some of our favorite posts while we were gone. I’m confident I speak for PJ, too, when I say we certainly enjoyed the time off, and that we’re excited to dive back into things with re-energized spirits. We pray that you make time to rest and find God in doing so. Here’s to fresh starts!