It's Labor Day weekend! Our last hurrah before bidding adieu to summer once again. Some families take the opportunity to head out of town for a brief end-of-summer vacation. We have such a love/hate relationship with summer vacations. We don’t want to go anywhere close to home, naturally; so we have to spend at least one day driving to our destination. And while we want to leave the routine of our day-to-day lives behind, we also tend to bring an awful lot of it with us.
The “Are we there yet?” part of vacation is something we merely tolerate. The “while we’re there” part of vacation is what brings us back year after year, giving us memories drenched in sunshine and good times that we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, a lot of the joy wears off on the way home. If it takes a day to get there, it seems to take a least a day and a half to get back.
When we’re children, all the work that goes into getting ready for a vacation is lost on us. Parents usually have to work extra hard at their jobs before a vacation to make up for the time that will be lost while they’re gone. Grown-ups also have to make reservations, plan routes, find fun and memorable things to do, write down things to pack, check items off that list, ensure that pets and plants will be cared for, make sure that everyone has everything they need in their suitcases, and load the suitcases. Pile in, kids!
As we grow older and more mature, we become more invested in family vacations. No longer are we satisfied with a “vacation.” We begin to ask, “A vacation where?” Our maturity gives us some voice (though probably not as much as we’d like) into the family’s vacation destination and plans for what to do when we’ve arrived. We know exactly what to take to keep us entertained in the car—an MP3 player, books, video games, something on which we can watch movies. We may have even packed our own suitcases.
Maturity means preparation not only for family vacations but also in other areas of our lives. We learn to think ahead, take stock of the situation, and get ourselves ready. But there remains one area of our lives for which so many of us still neglect to prepare: our spirituality. Should we approach our walk with God and relationship with Christ with any less forethought than with which we approach a summer vacation?
Sometimes we lose sight of our need for spiritual preparation because we fail to see the immediacy of our spiritual needs. We wrongly view spiritual things as “there when we need them” instead of as things that require our constant attention. In reality, our hearts and minds should be in a constant state of “getting ready” spiritually. Each day brings many encounters with God and many opportunities to answer God’s call.
When these arise, we shouldn’t be content to be the kid on vacation, along for the ride. Instead we should be prepared to embrace the encounters and answer the call.
Living intentionally has become such a popular Christian catch phrase that its meaning often gets lost. Nonetheless, it is still an important concept. As Christians, we must be intentional about our faith, staying connected with God through prayer and worship and drawing on the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit, so that we are always prepared to answer God’s call and live according to God’s will.