|by Suzie Johnson|
Whenever these steam engines pass through Eastern Washington, my husband likes to “chase” them. He takes roads off the beaten path that parallel the railroad tracks. I’m instructed to hang out the window and take pictures. When the train reaches its destination, he spends hours taking pictures and talking to the “guys” while I read. It’s not that I don’t like trains; I would just rather ride them than chase them. Afterwards, he likes to go hobby-shop hunting while I read. I do get a lot of reading and writing done this way, but it’s not my idea of a vacation.
Not after I finally experienced a real one.
What I learned from that very first vacation, almost two weeks away from work, household chores, and daily stress, is how important it really is to get away from it all.
We know Jesus did this. He didn’t go on two week vacations – that we know of – but he did go off by himself to pray and rest in his father’s presence. I’m sure he came back to his disciples refreshed, renewed and ready to face his next acts of ministry.
I think we’re shown his example for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the need for alone-time with God. I don’t think he would be opposed to us having a little fun, too, as long as we keep him first and foremost in our hearts and minds, always keeping that open line of communication with him.
When I took that first vacation, I went on the train from Seattle to California. It was magical. I’d never experienced anything like it. Most of my time was spent staring out the window and taking delight in the scenery. I didn’t sleep much – I didn’t want to miss anything. But I wasn’t tired because I had a running conversation with God that sustained me. I had the same experience on the way home. And in-between, I had the most fun I think my mother and I have ever had together – at Disneyland. I’ve never seen my mother laugh so much, and we loved experiencing it together so much, we’ve been back three times.
My first vacation, and every one since, has served more than one purpose:
* Quality alone time with God during the traveling phase (everyone else I vacation with flies to our destination, so I’m always alone on the train)
* Memory making with family members
* Lots of time spent reading / writing / brainstorming new ideas
What I found was that those memories sustain me through the year. Not only that, but planning for the next one gives me something to look forward to. If I can’t afford a real vacation, I combine it with a work or writer’s conference (just being at a conference can be relaxing for me), or if I can’t do either, I like to simply plan a train ride – to me, that in itself is a vacation. People cook for you, they make your bed at night, and you get all of that wonderful time to de-stress and rest in the Lord (much like Jesus did).
While I’m writing this, I’m anticipating my next vacation – in combination with a work conference. Afterward, my son is joining me and we’re going to have some fun. This morning, as you’re reading this, I’m in Florida for the first time in my life, which should be much warmer than the average 47 degrees I’m used to. Though I’m not going on the train, and I’m dreading the flight, I know that once I’m in the air and looking out at those clouds, I’ll be spending quality time with my God.
To tie this in with current events, while you’re reading this, I will hopefully be witnessing something I’ve never seen before and will never see again – the launching of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. And, at the end of the week, a much anticipated movie will premiere. Can you guess which one I’m hoping to see while in Disneyworld?
Do you have a favorite vacation destination?
What is your favorite kind of vacation?
Do you like to rest on sandy beaches or engage in touristy activities?