Vacation Vigilance

If you are a Christian teacher and have two months off over the summer, my guess is that you will enjoy a vacation or two.  There is nothing like getting away from the mundane of normalcy to create memories with your family.  Me?  Well, I just had the privilege of taking my family to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  My in-laws called us way back in February and told us they were taking us to Disney, and believe me, you didn’t have to twist my arm to say yes on that one!  What I found as we walked the streets of the Magic Kingdom was that I truly had to quiet myself and listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit in order to be the Christian that Jesus called me to be.  If you have a vacation on the calendar, this blog is for you!  And guess what?  Even if you don’t have one on the calendar, it will give you some wonderful food for thought for future vacations.  Let’s get started.

Scripture to keep in your pocket: “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4: 5-6).  Quick question … how do others know you are a Christian?  Most would say it is the way you speak, act, and conduct yourself.  When on vacation the strangers you encounter should have no doubt that you are different from the norm.  Pray before meals.  Be positive.  Give thanks to the people serving you.  If you have the opportunity to witness, do so.  I sat next to a guy about my age on the flight home who was a P.E./Health instructor at a Catholic school in Oregon.  After building a connection with him through our love for sports, I was able to turn the conversation to religion near the end of our flight and slip him my blog on a small sheet of paper.  Who knows?  He may be reading this now, and God-willing, he might even pass it on to a colleague in Oregon.  All because I took the time to be bold in my faith.

Scripture to keep in your pocket: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5: 16).  The key word here is OFTEN.  Our Savior was modeling what we need to be doing on a consistent basis.  If you think going on vacation is an excuse to skip your quiet time, think again.  The moment you arrive at your hotel, scope it out.  Find that quiet spot away from others.  You might have to get creative, but even if it is in the corner of the hotel lobby on a creaky wooden rocking chair, God still wants your time when you are away.  My recommendation is to crank it out early.  Once the day gets going, you will find it difficult to stop and quiet yourself to God.  If you can, find multiple opportunities to get away.  My quiet times in Florida were spread out waiting for flights, on the plane, before dawn in the hotel lobby, on the balcony of my hotel room, on my bed during rest time, and even waiting in lines for rides at the park.  I found a short chapter book about fathering that I utilized on a daily basis, I read through my New Testament Devotional, and I studied scripture on index cards.  Find whatever works for you, and give God your best!

Scripture to keep in your pocket: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20: 28).  This may be the hardest scripture to follow on vacation because you will quickly see that you expect to BE served, not to serve others.  Maids will be making your bed.  Concierges will be guiding you.  And of course you will be eating out a lot, letting waiters and waitresses cater to your every need.  Let them do their job, but if you can slide in to assist them with something small, do so.  Be thankful!  I love writing quick notes to servers or maids to encourage them, especially if they go above and beyond to serve me, and I always include a scripture at the end.  If you need one, use the one above!  Memorize it, keep it in your heart, and share it with others who are serving like Christ.  Who knows … your encouragement might come at a time when they need it most.  Be sure your words are filled with joy and love, and watch your complaining.  It wounds me every time I see a guest show frustration about something small that could be overlooked.  Give these people some grace.  You never know what others might be going through, and every one of those who serve certainly has a soul.  Let them see that your soul is different from the norm.

Vacations are a blessing from God, no doubt; however, taking a break from the dull of life at home is absolutely no excuse to take a break from being a Christian.  Nowhere in the Bible will you find a verse that says, “Take up your cross at your own convenience.”  Jesus admonishes us, saying we are to take up our crosses daily (Luke 9: 23).  Even on vacation we are to carry that cross.  There are no breaks in being a Christian.  It is not just a Sunday thing or even a 10-minute quiet time thing.  It is a lifestyle thing, a complete submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, letting Him guide your every decision.  As you vacation this summer, be thankful that you have the opportunity to show others who you are and what you stand for.  You are a Christian.  Be proud of it!

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