A Guilt-Free Vacation

July 14th, 2011
Image © Dennis Wong | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

I took a vacation recently, and frankly, I feel guilty about it.

I am, after all, trying to start a new church. Shouldn’t I have been busy doing something productive and not lazily hanging out on a beach? Weren’t there people to meet, plans to make, prayers to say, and worship services to prepare? This was no time to take a vacation! I shudder to think what others would have thought if they had found out. I was so worried what the perception would be, in fact, that I even decided to not post anything on Facebook – no pics of me chillin’ in the sun with a book, no clever thoughts about how nice it was to be on vacation and not working. Still, I couldn’t help but imagine what others would say. “Did you hear that Jay’s on vacation? I sure wish I had the time to take off from work. Geez, must be nice.”

So much for a restful, anxiety-free vacation.

This is a uniquely American problem. Most of us don’t take all of our vacation days. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much for this, though. In our society, you and I have learned that the busier we are, the more important we are. We believe our worth = our busyness. Therefore, those who can take time away from work couldn’t be that important, could they?

This is not how God created humans to live.

We were created to enjoy the same rhythm of work and rest that God enjoys. This is hard to do, however, when you worship work more than the God who created work. Which is what most of us do. Even though God is pretty explicit about the importance of rest (most Christians forget or never knew that the command to rest actually made God’s Top 10 List - see Commandment #4), we continue to ignore the obvious signs in our life that something’s wrong, the feeling that everything is out of whack and we’re just spinning our wheels trying to keep up.

Maybe today is a good day to remind ourselves that our worth has absolutely nothing to do with the kind of work we do or length of our to-do lists. Nothing we do affects our value in God’s eyes. But it can be the things we don’t do that affect our spiritual well-being – things like not answering the phone, not checking our email or Facebook page, and not doing anything work-related – that will give us the feeling of eternal worth and sense of balance that we so desire. It’s one of the few times in which God mandates we be selfish and care for ourselves and our families. Not bad, huh?

Next time I take a vacation I’m going to sip my umbrella drink on the beach in peace and feel good about the act of faith I’m taking by not doing anything.


Jay Cooper is the pastor of Jacob's Well, a new United Methodist Church plant in Chandler, AZ. He blogs at Souls Gone Wild.

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