Let me explain: Yes, God wants you to work hard and be faithful in school, at work, and in all of your responsibilities, whatever they might be. But I really believe that God wants each of us to have a regular rhythm of vacation in our lives as well.
Vacation and Scripture
Vacation is actually a profoundly biblical concept. It’s clear from Scripture that God assumes we will work. But God has to command us to rest.
First there’s the whole once-a-week sabbath thing that you’ve probably heard about.
Then God commands his people to observe a handful of festivals throughout the year, with each festival lasting about a week. And for each festival, God essentially tells his people to take time off, travel across the country, bring some food and drink, and have a party. (Don’t believe me? See Leviticus 23.) Sounds like a vacation to me.
And then there’s the sabbath year—a whole year of rest, every seventh year.
You’re probably starting to get the picture. God is serious about making sure his people take time off to rest, play, and connect with him. And if God is serious about this, we should make sure we’re doing it. But we should also learn to be intentional about how we vacation.
Tips for Biblical Vacationing
What does it look like to take a “biblical vacation”?
Eating figs? Riding donkeys? A desert fast? Learning to fish with large nets? Or visiting the Holy Land Experience?
Well, no. At least, not necessarily. Here are a few tips that can help you vacation in a way that affirms the essence of God’s commands to us to rest.
1. Think about vacation as a way to draw you more deeply into worship. For example, I love the outdoors. Hiking, camping, backpacking—there’s something about spending an extended period of time in nature that restores my soul and helps me appreciate how beautiful and amazing God is.
Nature might not be your thing, but you can find a way to vacation that will help you worship.
2. Use your vacation as an opportunity to love your neighbor. Traveling overseas can be a great way to learn about and grow to appreciate diverse cultures and peoples. My international trips have definitely grown my love for people abroad and at home.
And if traveling abroad isn’t possible for you, remember that you can still encounter plenty of diversity in people, cultures, and ways of life if you stay in the U.S.! Do a little digging into city and state cultures, be creative, and explore a new part of your own country.
3. Vacation responsibly. Unfortunately, the tourism industry can be a major perpetrator of injustice. Tourism can and does do damage to cultures, people, and the environment. So when you’re planning a vacation, do your research. How do the companies you’ll be giving your money to treat their workers and the environment? What has the impact of tourism been in the area you’re thinking about visiting? It can take a bit more work, but I’ve found that vacationing with these things in mind creates a more memorable experience in a whole host of ways.
A couple years ago, my wife and I took a vacation to Panama. We opted for small, independent lodging options that had a reputation for environmental sustainability and quality labor practices—and when you’re staying in an open-air rainforest tree house instead of a sprawling resort, you’re able to truly appreciate the unique beauty of a place. We also chose activities that would help us truly learn about Panama and interact with Panamanians. As a result, we met really fun people, got to experience a slice of authentic Panama life, and knew we were contributing to tourism structures that would continue to preserve and bless that country.
So, as summer ramps up, how’s this for a spiritual homework assignment? Take off! Explore! Rest! Take a vacation and enjoy it.
Even more, enjoy God.
Matt Meyer and his wife, Bekah, are planting an InterVarsity chapter at Ventura College in California. Matt blogs on life and ministry at kingdomintersect.wordpress.com.
Where are you vacationing this summer? Leave us a comment or tweet at us! @INTERVARSITYusa #biblicalvacation