“Don’t take a holiday from God…take a holiday with God.”
It’s a well-worn phrase, but it’s good advice. As the holiday season approaches, many of us will be hoping to get away somewhere for a week or two of R&R. What that looks like for each of us will vary depending on our life stage (and our tastes…) but for all of us holidays are a blessing to be enjoyed. And the best way to do that is to enjoy them with God. However that doesn’t just happen. It’s easy to switch off not just from work and the busy-ness of London life, but also from God and the patterns of the Christian life. So whether it’s Bognor or Biarritz, here are 3 suggestions on how to holiday well this summer. If you like: 3Rs for your R&R…
1. Get a ROUTINE
The mention of a “routine” doesn’t sound like a holiday for some, but relax…(it’s a holiday after all…): you can still lie on a beach all day and do nothing as part of your “routine.” The logic goes that with a break from work and plenty of time on our hands, we should be able to spend more time with God on holiday than we do during the rest of the year. However, for many of us, the reality can be the opposite. The absence of a routine (no alarm clock, no commute, no urgency) means that our time for praying and reading the Bible slips out of our timetable altogether.
To stay on top of this, it often helps to set aside a time each day when you can grab 15 minutes of quiet to read and pray. Why not ask a spouse or a friend to make sure you do it? It’s not a legalistic thing (we don’t have to do it) but it’s a privilege to spend time with God and a joy to have more time to do just that when we’re on holiday. So plan to do it! If you’ve got children, you might also want to say that after a mealtime you’ll read and pray together as a family each day. In the working week family Bible times are often rushed, so why not take advantage of holiday time to do this at a more leisurely pace? If Mum or Dad normally does this in term time, perhaps a holiday is a chance to swap/share this? It can be a very fruitful time as children (even toddlers) see Mum & Dad making time with God a priority. If you want ideas for resources/what to do, why not ask Ed Drew and the Children’s Team or talk to one of the pastors? Whatever you do, don’t just let it happen… be intentional. And get a routine.
2. Take some READING
The mention of holiday “reading” sounds obvious to some. Tom Clancy for him, Marian Keyes for her… All good intellectual stuff. But holidays are also a great opportunity to read some good spiritual stuff. While you’re lying in the sun (or sitting on the pier in the rain) why not read a good Christian paperback that will edify and encourage you in your walk with God? And it might be something to talk about with friends and family as well?
The book we’re recommending for this summer is Crazy Love by Francis Chan. And we’re recommending it for the summer because it’s an easy read. It’s had great reviews, lots of Co-Mission staff are enjoying it and Susie Herring (who reads a lot of books) here at Dundonald reckons it’s not just an easy read… but also a must read. Who can argue with that? So why not plan to take at least one Christian book (perhaps Crazy Love and a biography from our Summer Bible School ‘Heroes from History’ series)? Read… enjoy… and share your favourite bits with a spouse or a friend. Enjoy plenty of sleep and lots of time by the pool (or the soft play)…but think about your spiritual diet as well. And take some reading.
3. Enjoy a REST
The mention of a “rest” sounds like a no-brainer to most. But (just to be clear…) make sure you max out on having a rest! Slow down, enjoy a break and as you do, thank God for the blessing of holidays! If you’re able to travel, enjoy the beauty of God’s creation…and remember its creator. If you’re enjoying a glass of wine on the terrace (or a lukewarm latte at the local park) thank God for the good things he gives us. Enjoy a physical rest…and enjoy a spiritual rest. It might be writing some encouraging verses in a notebook… or learning a few lines from a favourite psalm. It might be praying with your spouse for a few minutes each day; it might be a family meal with the children saying grace. Or it might just be sharing your spiritual encouragements from the past year while on a long car journey.
Whatever it is, set out to enjoy a rest with God while you’re on holiday. Pray that he would help you to delight in his word and that as you get to know him better you might return home encouraged and excited about serving him in the year ahead. Enjoy plenty of relaxation and have lots of fun. Get a tan (if you’re lucky…) and explore new places. And enjoy a rest.
So there you go: 3Rs for your R&R.