Several years back, John Piper wrote a wonderful little book entitled Don’t Waste Your Life (highly recommended!). And then, I suppose because there are so many aspects of this life that we ought not waste, both Piper and others have spun off that title, urging readers: ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer’, ‘Don’t Waste Your Sports’, ‘Don’t Waste Your _______.’ Well, allow me to fill in one of those blanks, at the outset of this summer season, by urging you not to waste your vacation.
Vacation is a wonderful privilege we have in this modern, western world. It is a blessing that many of us are able to get away from the grind of work, and shopping, and laundry, and the lawnmower for a handful of days … and just relax. But I know from experience that there is a relaxation in which I am resting in God; and there is also a relaxation (sadly) in which mostly rest from Him – forgetting about Him, to the shriveling of my soul. And the latter is dangerous!
Not that vacation has to be a mission trip, or an intensive Bible study sabbatical (although it could be, sometimes). But even while we rest, let us make sure that we are resting in God and with God, instead of taking a break from Him, even while we break from all the other stuff of everyday life!
How can we do so? A few brief suggestions:
Bring along a good Christian book. Maybe something you’ve been wanting to read, or on a subject you’ve been wanting to consider. Maybe a collection of Spurgeon’s sermons, which are wonderfully readable and warm. Maybe, if you’re like me, a warm and devotional Christian biography would be just what the doctor ordered. But whatever it is, bring along a book or two that will feed your soul, and don’t waste your vacation.
Don’t Waste Your Life (Piper)
The Gospel for Real Life (Bridges)
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (Spurgeon)
Amy Carmichael (Murray)
Also, for further reading suggestions, see Tim Challies’ post (which inspired this article) “What Type of Vacation Reader Are You?”
Listen while you drive. We live in an era in which hearing the word of God (and other good Christian material) is easier than ever. So while you’re burning up the highway, plug in your audio Bible app, or a few sermons, or a solid Christian book on CD, or a handful of Christian biographical messages. Listen while you drive (or fly), and don’t waste your vacation.
YouVersion (Bible app available on Android and iPhone)
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God (book and audio CD)
Attend a solid gospel church. Our time away ought never be a vacation from the Lord’s house, and the Lord’s word, and the Lord’s people. So do a little research in advance, find a solid church, and make your way there on Sunday morning. Listen as intently as you would at your home church. And linger, too. Meet a few people … so that you are reminded of the breadth of God’s gospel plan, and the richness of God’s family. Find a church when you’re out of town, and don’t waste your vacation.
How to find a church:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The fourth commandment doesn’t go on vacation when we do! And neither does it consist only of attending Sunday service … but of a whole day set apart from our normal toils and diversions (Isaiah 58:13-14), and to the Lord. And so, while the other days of vacation may be filled with theme parks, golf outings, restaurants, ballgames, and the like … let your Sundays, even on vacation, be quiet days of rest, worship, reading, prayer, quiet walks in God’s creation, and family times that enable you to exhale rather than exhaust. So “remember the sabbath day,” even while you are away, and don’t waste your vacation.
So just a few suggestions – not to make your vacation a spiritual boot camp, but to help you rest in a way that is profitable, rather than soul-numbing. Put them into practice this summer, and don’t waste your vacation.