We don’t get out much. Well, we do get out much but usually it is to work or swim practice or church activities or horse activities or volunteer activities or homeschool classes. We zip around like ping pong balls hither and yon while sprinkling a little homeschooling in for good measure. And let me tell you, by February of each school year, we are running on fumes.
When my friend called me up and casually suggested we join her and her husband on their spring vacation in the Virgin Islands, I responded in the serene and calm manner I am known for in absolutely no circles.
The conversation went like this:
Kim: Hey, you and Dave should come down to St. Thomas with us.
Me: You are very funny.
Kim: No, I am serious.
Me: SHUT UP! Are you SERIOUS!?!?! SHUT UP!
At this point I was screaming and Kim couldn’t stop laughing. It’s hard to translate her snorts in a blog post dialogue.
Kim: Do you think you can make it work?
Me: YES! YEEEEESSSSS! Of course!
Kim: But can Dave get off work?
Me: Who cares?! I can go without him!
Kim: What about the kids?
Me: I will find someone to watch them! Or I will put them in foster care! Either way!
And so it went. Dave was a little more measured in his response. Excitement mixed with practicality and all that. I felt this was no time for practicality but he insisted we at least line up childcare before we booked our tickets. Fine.
Two months later, after bribing grandparents to come from out of state, arranging rides and writing out schedules, making a bunch of meals to freeze, refilling the animal feed bins, stocking the house with groceries, gassing up the van, and lying to our kids that we will bring them along sometime, we headed down to the Virgin Islands for a week.
The truth is, as excited as I was to go, I was a little apprehensive about lying around on a beach for a week. I know, I know – I have issues. But I like to hike, sight see, and hit all the cool local haunts and “don’t miss” sites suggested by the travel books I read cover to cover before any destination trip. Sitting around and doing nothing? I wasn’t sure what the heck that even LOOKS like. It sounded … dare I say it … boring?
It took one day to change my mind.
That first morning I lounged on my beach chair for hours taking in the sight of endless aqua water and listening to the waves lap against the shore. I thought about Heaven. I prayed. I read my Bible. I listened to my favorite worship music. And I felt a quiet in my spirit that had been stifled by months of busy.
For the rest of the week I kicked it like a teenager: Earbuds in. Layin’ on beach like I didn’t need a job. Sleeping. Reading. Giggling with my friends.
I had this crazy thought: Why don’t I do this more often?
Ok fine I have four kids, three jobs, a hobby farm and I homeschool. Whatever. But setting all that aside, why not?
Clearly we can’t always chill on a beach in paradise while being waited on by five star hotel staff. But in our hearts. Our homes. Our souls. Our lives … we can and should carve out times of respite.
We can enjoy the wonderful earth God gave us right in our own backyard. We can take time to think. Unplug. Laugh with friends. So again, why don’t we do it more often?
God created us with an inherent need for rest. But our culture places very little value on peace and quiet. Instead we push and strive like energizer bunnies until we crash.
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:31-32
Did you catch that? “They had no leisure, even to eat.” Is that YOU? Do you push so hard you don’t even eat? God doesn’t want us to live like that. He wants us to have leisure. He wants us to relax. He wants us to be renewed in ways only found when we quiet our spirits before Him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28
God is the creator of rest. He values gentleness and peace in our spirits. (1 Peter 3:4) I don’t know about you, but packing activity after activity into my life doesn’t exactly foster a gentle and quiet spirit. So why do we insist on cramming our lives so full of commotion that there is no room for rest?
I knew what awaited me on the other side of the ocean. Kids. Chaos. Work.
So I thought about what aspects of my vacation I could bring home that would facilitate a restful spirit within me.
Prayer. Extended time in the Word. Music. Laughter. Contemplation. Quiet. Nature. A maid. (Just sayin’)
The world, social media, enticing activities, and endless to do lists harangue me to stay busy every second of every day. But I am re-evaluating what needs to be taken off my plate to make room for restful priorities. I plan to unplug more often, guard my time, and leave margin in my calendar. And I will remember the ultimate source of rest.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2
I am so glad I turned out to be an ace of a beach bum. And if you stop by and find me laying out on my deck watching the clouds pass by, don’t be worried. Pull up a chair and join me.