Posts Tagged ‘vacation’


God lays out the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 

God commands rest.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is “shabbat,” and it comes from the word which means, “to cease.” God commands his people to stop working.  Not only they, but their children, animals, and even foreigners passing through their land.  Not one of them was to work on this holy day.

So, you couldn’t just tell someone else to work for you on the Sabbath.  You couldn’t have your servants, kids, or animals pull your weight.  Everyone was to rest.  The reason is because this is the example – the precedent set by God himself in his very creation of the world.

The concept of the Sabbath is very important to us today.  It points us back to creation and, even more importantly, forward to redemption.  In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath was meant to point God’s people to their own deliverance from Egypt – from slavery.

All of this points us, today, to our rest in Christ.  We are commanded to cease from labor; to remember our deliverance from slavery; to rest in Christ alone every single minute of every single day in order to glorify him by our complete and total trust and faith in Him – despite the, often times immense workload he has ordained for us.

Resting in Christ does not mean that once we know him we can shuck all our responsibility and not do that which we have been called to.  It is not holy or righteous to cease from our work by dumping it off on everyone around us while we bask in the presence of God.

 It is tempting, I know.  I personally have an almost superhuman ability to block out noise and distraction when I want to study my Bible.  No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I cannot justifiably come to the conclusion that God has commanded me to rest instead of doing the jobs he has given to me.  Even on the Sabbath, God has not commanded me to ignore and neglect my home and children in order to prove I am faithfully resting in Him.  No.  God wants me to pray for strength and endurance so I might have the great faith it takes to rest in Him in my most overwhelming circumstances.

Resting is remembering God and trusting him enough to stop working in my own strength, not only for one day per week, but every single day until my eternal rest.

Unfortunately, just like a human, I often get off track.  After I work in my own strength without resting in him for a long time, I crash, I burn, or I quit.  Quitting is resting in my own means.  It is a selfish rest.  And it doesn’t really help me, either.  Vacations do not make overwhelming situations go away.  If I left my home and children for a week, they wouldn’t magically become obedient, mature, and respectful while I was gone.  They may not even be alive anymore!  Literally ceasing from the work God has ordained in my life is never an option!  Ceasing from trusting in myself to accomplish it or trusting in my work itself is what this command calls me to.

On the contrary, carrying on and trusting that He is enough to help me accomplish all that which he has called me to do is truly what resting in him is all about.  That is a holy rest; a God-glorifying rest; a righteous rest.

I believe taking a once a week rest from physical or worldly work and daily responsibilities as much as humanly possible is definitely wise.  I believe, however, the command to keep the Sabbath for New Testament believers is rooted in our rest in grace, not works, and, ultimately, our eternal rest in Christ, in heaven.  Even a more literal approach to Sabbath-keeping only indicates and prescribes one day per week for rest from our human responsibilities and callings.  That means the more time we spend “resting” outside that prescription, the less we are actually trusting in God to give and provide us with the true rest he has promised – the rest that comes solely from Him despite overwhelming circumstances and hard labor coupled with a constant, urgent call to share his good news with everyone, everywhere, always.

“Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect.” ~Matthew Henry


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“I miss the kids.”

Not surprisingly, this is the statement a finally-all-alone mommy and daddy utter most on the ever-elusive tropical island we all dream of visiting.  Ironically, the very first word spoken to me by a local on the US Virgin Islands was “mamita.”  I’m going to hope the denotation – “mommy” – was meant given the context.

Still, St. Thomas is altogether beautiful – a paradise of sorts.  The sun is always out, the weather is always warm, and the water is always clear.

The picture (above) was hanging in the kitchen where we stayed.  There is a little boy and a little girl under a tree.  When we were young, my husband and I would always buy cards with the little boy and girl for one another and say it was us.  If you look closely, you’ll see a man sitting off to the right.  “Who’s the man?”  “Easy.  That’s God.  He’s with us.”

My husband and I went alone and stayed in a small cottage atop one of the ubiquitous steep hills.  Living on Red Hook Mountain for a week had its share of ups and downs if you know what I mean.  We learned quickly that you need to rent a car unless you like walking the Summit three times a day, you need a driver like MacGyver to park it up there, and passengers should just shut their eyes and pray while MacGyver drivers attempt three point turns alongside the cliff.

That said, we absolutely adored the cottage.  The view was magnificent – just like the pictures you see on tv.  Every morning the sunrise woke us up to what felt like our second honeymoon.  From the flower the husband found floating randomly underwater for me to his mispronunciation of St. Croix – St. Crooks, St. Crow, and my personal favorite, St. Croaks, every day was perfect.  Little wonder – we spent most of our time in “Nazareth.”  Of course it was not the Nazareth, but there is absolutely no doubt that my redeemer was there with us.

We spent a lot of time snorkeling and exploring the different beaches.  We saw a lot of unique sea life, corral reefs, and even went out on a sailboat one day.

Taking a trip like this alone with your spouse sends you back – especially when you’ve been together for almost 18 years.  It really just reminded me of when we first met and fell in love.  No cares or worries – just hot summer days and time with one another.

As we stood in line to go through customs in the airport before we left, a man asked where we were from.  He told us he’d gone to seminary in Ambridge, PA and we ended up having a mutual friend.  Before our flights whisked us all back to the snow and cold, this man sat and listened to us, offered great encouragement, and prayed for us right there in the airport.  There is no doubt the Lord sent him to us.  Thank you, Pastor Dana for praying for us.  God answered.

And I couldn’t be more thankful.  I could not be more thankful.  We had an amazing trip.  I have an amazing husband.  We have a very concerned, involved, caring, and amazing God.  We found him walking on the beaches in Nazareth last week and he made sure we knew he was leading us home.

Thank you, Father, for your mercy and grace upon our marriage.  Thank you, husband, for your generosity and sacrifice for me all the time.  Thank you, parents, for taking care of our children, dogs, and home.  Thank you, pastor, for your prayers.  Thank you, St. Thomas, for renewing our love.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

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After spending our last official day of summer vacation rock climbing and waterfall chasing, I can’t help but begin to catalog the past few months.

As one more chapter in this book I call my life comes to a close, I find myself struggling to contrive a way to cradle children who no longer need one and coddle contentment – contentment that comes from being confident in knowing it doesn’t matter if your best dress gets wet as long as Daddy stands under the cold, windy current with you; contentment that follows a father over rough rocks with reckless abandon and frigid fords with complete freedom to fall and to fail.  Because contentment and confidence can’t continue if they need crutches to carry them.

Crutches?  Yes.  Call them whatever you will – summer, Sunday, still water, silence, security, satisfaction – ultimately everything I spend my days searching for ways to save and to stock like Gollum did with his pretty ring. If we get real honest, we’ll call them idols – sinister gods void of salvation.

So with structure and school teaching standing on my starting line tomorrow, I want to come to a steady stop.  I want to remember, reconstruct, and realize for a moment just why I am embarking on year number five of home school education with my children.

And, after all my post-summer thoughts are contentiously placed neatly back where they belong, I find that my answer is, surprisingly, today.  I home school, firstly because God called me – a being-a-teacher-is-the-last-job-I’d-ever-choose-and-I-like-to-work-alone-I-can-do-it-but-I-can’t-explain-it kind of girl – but secondly, because I want my children to know it doesn’t matter if their best dress gets wet.  Reason number two is merely a reflection of reason number one – especially considering who I am.

I want them to learn to follow their Father over rough rocks they’d never choose to climb.  I want them to be recklessly willing to wade through frigid fords with confidence, contentment, and full freedom to fall and to fail – even to their very foundation.  I home school because I want my children to know that chasing the waterfall is worth the risk of damp underpants.  I want them to know that they do not need the crutches of security – summer, Sunday, still water, silence, security, or satisfaction – to save them.  I want them to know they need only Christ to save them.

How will they know?  How will they learn these things?  Have I even learned them?

Perhaps not – certainly not fully.  But one thing is certain: they will see their teacher who is not a teacher teaching because Daddy said climb these rocks if you want to see the waterfall.  They will learn how little the cold matters when you’re crossing with freedom because they’ll have a bird’s eye view of the real life falls and failures of their still-learning-patience-and-kindness-101 mother day in and day out.  They’ll watch as she crawls confidently back to her forgiving Father in unmistakable frequency.  And they’ll watch as, year by year, her crutches become less and less imperative for her own contentment.

For me, home school is not nearly as much about academics as it is about real life.  Children can become literate in almost any setting if given the proper materials.  They cannot, however, become disciples without Christ and a broken vessel to point them to Him daily.  There is no age-appropriate classroom for discipleship and real life rarely happens in a vacuum like we see in most public schools.  God is more creative than that.

Lord, help me remember how little control I have over the influencing factors in my life and give me grace to follow you ever forward.  Help me put away my idolatrous crutches and run with contentment and confidence to every place you wait to show me.  Thank you for another year of opportunity to share the gospel with my three small disciples.  May they follow you all the days of their lives and both learn from as well as avoid their teacher’s foolish mistakes.


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