Many experiences slip through our fingers with little or no significance. This makes us depressed because we see our life dribbling away without meaning. We want life to be rich with joy and love and intensity; but again and again we seem to just aimlessly drift through experiences half awake. Life becomes just a blah passage of time. And our hearts yearn for the exhilaration and pungency of experiences lived to the limit.
A vacation is one of those experiences that can leave us feeling depressed if we feel it has slipped through our fingers without meaning. I am very eager for this not to happen to me and Noël and the boys when we take our vacation in August. I want to avoid “post-vacation blues.” I want August on the road to be pungent with life. There are three things I am doing to make this happen.
To help make your vacation time significant, pray for help, set goals, and plan specific ways to accomplish those goals.
First, I am praying. God must show me how to plan, and God alone can give the grace to keep us from devouring each other through 2,500 miles on the road. Second, I am taking time to think about what my goals for a vacation should be. Most of life slips through our fingers because we don’t take time to ponder what we want to get out of life. Third, I am planning specific ways to make sure that these vacation goals get accomplished.
Let me tell you some of my goals. This will help you pray for us and maybe you will be inspired to think through your own goals too.
1) I want to come home rested, not exhausted. This means we have to plan to go to bed early because our boys wake up around seven. Or maybe a few naps will be needed. It will also require stopping early to set up camp as we travel.
2) I want to give joy to the grandparents of my children. So we will spend time in Easley, SC where my dad lives and in Barnsville, GA where Noël’s folks live.
3) I want to spend many quality hours with Noël to reaffirm my tremendous love for her and appreciation for her partnership, to assess our life together after one year in the pastorate, to dream together about the future (our sons’ schooling, our neighborhood witness, our ministry of hospitality to the church, our material style of life), to read a book aloud to each other, and finally to pray together (oh, how couples need to pray with each other more!). To do all this, Noël and I plan to get away by ourselves for one week in North Carolina.
4) I want to enrich my sons with some new experiences and to make them happy. So I plan to stop at significant spots along the way, to have special family devotional times, to ask them lots of questions, and to do my best not to get irritated when I am interrupted.
5) I want to read some books that will deepen my understanding of biblical truth and stir me up to be a more zealous “pastor-teacher.” So I am trying now to decide what books to take.
6) I want to spend a good bit of time alone praying about the future of the church and planning my sermons through next spring.
7) I want to be refreshed in my spirit and my imagination. I plan to read some imaginative literature and poetry and to open my eyes to the world around me.
8) I want to spread the fragrance of the gospel wherever we go. So I plan to take some literature along to use as opportunity arises for witnessing to Christ.
Would you pray for our family as we prepare for vacation and when we are away in August? And may God help us all, as Jonathan Edwards resolved, to “live with all our might while we do live.”