In ancient times, the Jews would leave their land fallow every seventh year to allow the necessary nutrients in the soil to be replenished so their crops could bear fruit. On the seventh day of creation, God rested. He looked around and saw that what he made was very good. In order to continue to bear fruit in our own lives, rest is necessary.
This is the world in which we dwell: Sixty-hour work weeks. Arriving early. Staying late. Overtime. Stuffed calendars. A world where time is money. Many of us pine for rest, for the lazy days of summer, which un-officially begins on Memorial Day weekend. And so, summer is almost upon us. I often feel as if I have so many plates spinning simultaneously that I can barely plan for the next thing on my list before life starts another plate a-spinnin’. There is one thing that all of us take time to plan, however, and that, my friends, is vacation– our trips and time away. Trips away from the noise of our every day, toward time with family or dear friends. Our own small, personal sabbatical. Maybe your personal sabbatical takes the form of a weekend at home with a good book, a ‘staycation’ in Houston, a mission trip to Costa Rica or New Orleans, a trip overseas, a few days in Hauser Hall at Vacation Bible School, or a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Whatever form your summer break will take in this season, it will take planning.
There are many ways to approach time away. You can observe, or you can relate to what is around you. We are not changed by observing. You can observe the man standing on the street corner, or you can love him. You can research, or you can believe. As we live, both where we are and where we visit, we have the awesome opportunity to truly and deeply encounter and relate to every thing and every person we come across, including our families and the friends we travel with.
I challenge you to undertake your small sabbatical as a pilgrim, not a simple tourist. A tourist is out to collect things: memories, photos, mementos. A pilgrim is out to be changed–heart, mind, and soul. To a tourist, only the journey matters. But to the pilgrim, the destination is the reason for the journey.
Be intentional this summer. Be a pilgrim. Relate, change, and be changed. Seek and serve Christ in all persons. Spread the Good News by word and example, seeking the orphaned and oppressed.
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”