Thursday, 9 August 2012

The end of one road, usually leads to beginning of another


The Olympics are nearly over. The culmination of years of hard work and up to 4 years of dedication to win a prize has been completed for many an athlete and sportsperson.   The partying has begun, and for many the ‘wheels will come off’ for a while as the focus on practice and the goal ahead is left behind, in favour of celebrating (or commiserating).

Sometimes in the Summer, we do the same.. after working hard to reach an objective, we choose to take ‘down time’ from the responsibility of our tasks, enjoy ourselves, and find refreshment in not being motivated by the work left to do.

1) It is important to rest, but while we rest, don’t sin.

“When in Rome” is an oft quoted euphemism for fitting in with what everyone else is doing.. – but just because many in the Olympic village are partying hard and ‘forgetting themselves’ doesn’t give us licence to do likewise.  When we’re on holiday we’re often away from our support structures and people that know us. ‘Who will know?’ we say to ourselves. “It won’t really matter if…”  but the measure of our heart change is what we do in PRIVATE, not what we do in PUBLIC ( Matthew 6:6).

The purpose then of vacations is to relax and refresh, not to sin. Yet isn’t often our inclination to drink too much, eat too much, spend too much, as if personal responsibility has gone by the wayside? How confusing it must be to our children when all year we have been saying to be watchful, disciplined and careful, and then we blow caution to the wind when the opportunity arises? Isn’t it hypocritical of us?

2) Refreshment produces a light feeling, not a heavy burden.

If we come back from holiday with a bump, feel more tired when we return than when we left or are suddenly facing a load of issues that were not present before our vacation isn’t it likely that we failed to exercise our responsibility carefully before our departure and didn’t actually refresh ourselves during our vacation?  Refreshment actually refreshes us. The clue is in the word. It’s not about whether we have an activity holiday or a quite seclusion, what activity energises one may not energise another, but recharging our batteries by diverting our energies from our regular responsibilities provides the space for us to be refreshed, but not the means.

3) What is actually refreshing?

Having the time to spend in the word? reading some edifying material that we didn’t have time for before our break? focussing on relationships with those we’re vacationing with? Releasing some burden or other that you’ve been carrying ‘to the Lord’? Relating with some other part of the Lord’s family to encourage us and them, and be amazed at what’s He’s been coordinating to bring about His kingdom purpose.. finding Solace and purpose in His embrace?  Getting to bed early and sleeping in a little later? [actual rest can be very refreshing!]

Yet when we set our vacation agenda, I wonder,  do we think ‘it’ll be nice not to have to go to church… ‘ or ‘I’d love to see what [name of church] are doing, It’d be great to go see them? Do we just look to ‘be on our own’ have some ‘me’ time? Is that what Jesus did?

4) But I’m going to Newday, together @, Soul survivor, New Wine etc…

Going to a conference may provide spiritual nourishment and energising refreshment but they are also hard work, not generally relaxing (results may vary) and for those not used to camping, can be stress inducing.  In all cases, it is not a holiday or vacation, and though it is expensive and are often for convenience sake held in vacation time, it may well be worth considering finding some reflective, down time where you can actually rest to receive bodily refreshment.  On the seventh day the Lord rested, not because he was tired, but I submit to you to show us that proper rest is important.  Athletes have a recovery period after each race and after each games. It would be amazingly arrogant of us to assume that we who are less fit need less rest and recovery.


5) Rest, refreshment and recovery always leads to the start of the road ahead.

I submit to you that if you are properly rested your perspective on what is to come is signifcantly and positively affected.  You are not at the end of your days, you are at the end of that road. Even if you have to tread a similar path the day after your vacation, each new day enables you to approach that days journey with the refreshment you have received.   When we vacation it gives us a moment to reflect on our destination (and change it) AND the mode of transport (and change that too).  We can determine if the destination is right but the road we’re on is not, and we can determine to change course. We can determine if we’re travelling too fast or too slow and make an alteration to the transport, and we can determine that what we were heading for is really the prize or whether the prize is beyond or in a different direction altogether.  If we fail to spend some time submitting to God our plans and waiting on him in a vacation period, we miss a cherished opportunity to reaffirm his purpose in our lives, remind ourselves of His promises to us, and recommit ourselves to treading the path he has laid before us..  the road ahead will always be there, but let us tread on it with renewed vigour, energy and spirit as we trust Him with our lives our journey, our bodies and our destination.

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