Planning A Vacation?
Vacations have become so much a part of our standard of living that most families have at least one during each year. The peak season for vacations nationally covers the months of June, July and August. It has been estimated in some cities that as much as ten percent of the population is away on vacation each week of this three-months period. Naturally such a mass vacation exodus has a pronounced effect upon the churches of our Lord. From where I sit this effect for the most part is not good. It seems proper, therefore, that a few words should be said about planning a vacation.
The Bible teaches that all who are able to do so are to engage in honest toil of some kind. It also recognizes that men need periods of rest from their toil. Jesus said to his disciples upon one occasion "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while" (Mark 6:31 ). The word rest here is from anapauo and signifies in intermission from labor in order to restore one's strength or to refresh one's self. "In the papyri it is found as an agricultural term e.g., of giving land rest by sowing light crops upon it" (W. E. Vine). This word is similar in meaning to our English word vacation which is defined, "Respite or a time of respite; an intermission or rest. A scheduled period during which activity or work is suspended . . . A period for rest and recreation" (Webster's). It is proper and right that Christians should take vacations occasionally from their work.
A vacation consists of doing something that is refreshingly different from one's customary line of employment. The disciples of Jesus had been traveling over the land on the limited commission teaching the people about the coming kingdom when Jesus instructed them to take a short rest. Inasmuch as they had been in constant contact with people, they needed the seclusion of an uninhabited desert place to refresh themselves. Had their condition been reversed, i.e., and they spent a long period alone in a desert place, they no doubt would have found rest and refreshment by mixing and mingling with people in the cities round about. That which is recreation to one person may well be considered work by another. For this reason, how the Christian spends his vacation is largely a matter of choice and circurnstances. But regardless of how the Christian spends his vacation, he is at all times to conduct himself as a Christian and to be governed in his activities by the word of God.
When some people take a vacation, they take it not only from their regular work but also from God and the church as well. Having lived and preached in some places adjacent to areas where people spend vacations, I have learned that many church members who are regarded as faithful back home have little or no interest at all in the services of the church while on vacation. For instance, an elder of a church located in a semi-southern state spent several weeks each year at a resort near where I was preaching. According to his own admission, he attended only one service each week although there were several churches within easy reach of him. God is certainly not pleased with such conduct whether it be from an elder or any other member of the church. Most churches seem to have a "summer slump" in attendance at all services. Common arithmetic would indicate a substantial increase in attendance in many places, if those away from home attended the services of the church near where they vacation. But such is not the case. The command to forsake not the assembly (Heb. 10:25) applies just as much when the Christian is fishing in the mountains as it does when he is at home in Possom Trot. If Christians should support all the services of the church at home (and thev should), then by the same token they should do so when away from home.
Just as many seem to forget the church while on vacation, so also many seem to forget some other things equally as important. There can be no vacation from Christian duties and responsibilities. There is no period when something else can come before the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33). Praying without ceasing includes the vacation period (I Thess. 5:17). Christian growth and development are not to cease (2 Pet. 3:18). Keeping unspotted from the world (James 1:27) applies 365 days of the year (366 in leap year). If ever there is a time when we should be careful about the keeping unspotted from the world, its while we are on vacation-with leisure time and, usually, extra temptation on hand.
A vacation does not have to be spent apart from truth and righteousness to be enjoyable. A vacation can adequatelv serve its intended purpose and at the same time be wholly Christian in character. But such a vacation is not just a "happen so" - it must be planned for. Just as one must certainly plan such items and routes to take, places to stay and things to carry along to avoid unnecessary trouble, so also he must plan the spiritual part of his vacation to avoid spiritual trouble. A list of the following things should be included in any Christian's plans for a vacation. In fact, they should have first place in his plans and all other matters made conformable thereto.
To begin with, the place or places where the vacation is to be spent should be selected with the accessibility of a church in mind. I'his is especially needful if the vacation is to be spent in an area where the churches of Christ are few and far between. When going into such an area, it is wise to know ahead of time exactly where you will worship. Obtain a directory of churches in the area or get the information from a preacher in the area. Be certain that the information you have contains the address of the building, time of service, phone numbers, and the church's condition. The last item is important because the name often is misleading. There are many "Christian Churches" and those who harbor other errors calling themselves "the church of Christ."
Be sure that your plans will not interfere with your being present at the services of the church. Also plan your travel schedule so as to allow sufficient time to reach the place of worship. In a larger city it may take longer to find than you thought, or it may be far out in a suburb requiring longer to reach. There is also the possibility of being misdirected if you have to rely upon local citizens to tell you how to locate 9999 Out-of-the-way Avenue.
Know beforehand that your vacation spot will provide wholesome entertainment and environment for you and your family. Avoid completely places notorious for vice and evil, dancing, drinking, gambling, and such things are just as out of place on vacation as they are back home. "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:21, 22). Carry your Bible and read from it each day and pray every day. Listening to God speak to us and talking to him will strengthen us at a time when, being away from home and at a place where nobody knows us, it would be easy to do wrong.
Regardless of whether you plan a vacation in "a desert place apart" or among the bright lights of the city, plan for it to be a Christian vacation. (1 ) Don't neglect the church, and (2) Keep yourself unspotted from the world. You can have a far better time. You can come home with a clear conscience, and you'll be a better person.
Truth Magazine III:8; pp. 20-21