I need a vacation. Over the years I’ve learned to identify the signs. I’ve learned to spot the difficulty in getting out of bed, the lack of creativity I bring to my vocation, the extra cup of coffee I find myself craving in mid-afternoon. I enjoy the blessing of being able to do what I love to do almost all day every day so when I get tired, when I get listless, when I find it almost impossible to sit down and write, it’s a sure sign that I need some time off.
Thankfully, vacation is fast approaching and in a few weeks I will be away from the every day. But before then I have a decision to make. I need to decide what this vacation will look like. When vacation approaches, I feel the need, I feel the self-imposed pressure, to make it all about my family. I have read a number of well-intentioned books and articles that tell me that the best dads are the ones who dedicate the entire vacation to their family, who transition from the busyness of every day life to the busyness of organizing family activities, of making sure that every moment is special for the children.
I love the idea of it, but panic at the reality because right now I crave rest. I crave quiet, low-key, relaxing days that allow me to lie still and read and pray and ponder. And I don’t think I need to feel guilty about this, either. My children may need a vacation, but I need it more. I work harder than they do. I have greater responsibilities. I carry more stress. I have accumulated a lot more mileage. This leaves me with a deep need for rest. I can’t live life well without these times of deliberately escaping normal responsibilities. My ability to provide for my family and to care for them depends upon it.
God did not apologize for resting on the seventh day of creation—the One who needed no rest took a day off to display a truth, to teach a lesson. Jesus did not apologize for escaping to the wilderness for times alone, even when there were a million-and-one great things he could have done back among the people. God himself shows us a pattern of rest. God himself shows that for some days or some weeks rest may be the most sacred thing we do.
So we will take our family vacation and for the first two days, or maybe even three or four, I will be still. I will be there, I will be available, but my deliberate focus will be on resting, relaxing, recharging. And then, when I have come back to life, we will go and have our fun together. And I think my kids will be just fine with this.
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