Let us be clear that vacation is not a word in the Bible. It is not a commandment. It is not a must do or die. You can go to heaven and never take an American vacation. The larger part of the world's population has probably never heard the word "vacation" in their own language, and even if they have, they would not be able to afford to take the time to travel. How do you travel from an isolated piece of land between tributaries of the Amazon River, or from North Korea, or from remote Siberia?
Further, there are countless Christians in prison, hospitals, living under oppressive regimes and physically not able to get away for a time of leisure and refreshment.
Vacation is a concoction of times and economies that allow people to take time off from their primary vocation for a while and be able to return home to shelter and not be hungry.
Let us also be clear that the Bible does talk about taking a time to rest, to retreat and to refresh. Jesus did. It is also true that the Bible teaches that it is good to enjoy the fruit of our labors. A merry (happy) heart contributes to good health [Proverbs 17:22].
While Laila and I have been traveling for six days, I have been thinking... How do I answer to Jesus for my time and circumstances if he returns while I am on vacation? Is it moral and biblical for a pastor to take a vacation? I must reconcile my heart with these questions. Here are some things I have determined in order to have a successful vacation.
1. Must travel with Jesus: Wherever we go and whatever we do we must conduct ourselves in the character of our Christian faith. Jesus cannot be left behind when we take time off. 2. The Great Commission is not rested while we are on vacation. Every person we meet in motels, restaurants, service stations, rest areas, tours...is a prayerful opportunity to direct thoughts to Christ, leave Christian materials, or share words of hope and encouragement. 3. Money is to be spent wisely. Vacation is not a time for waste or ridiculous extravagance. Waste is waste. Money spent is gone. 4. Prudence: If someone else is paying for a meal or providing a gift do not expect more than we are willing to pay with our own money. 5. Leave motel/hotel rooms in order that suggests a person of decency has been the occupant. Imagine that Jesus would walk into the room just after you checked out. Put trash in the can. Leave a semblance of order that suggest a respect for yourself and confirms a testimony that you are a Christian. 6. Keep your devotional life pure while traveling. Take personal time to pray, think and read the Bible and inspirational materials. 7. Rest properly. Do not create sleep patterns and habits that will make life difficult after returning home. 8. Pray daily for the Lord to put someone in your path with whom you can share the love of Jesus. 9. Enjoy God's creation. This is your divine right as his child. 10. Keep up with your necessary responsibilities even while taking time off. [I am writing this while on vacation.] 11. Be grateful and trust others who are at home base. Pray that they enjoy their time in leadership and perform well. 12. Take time to meditate and plan for new adventures when returning home. 13. Honor the Sabbath and go to church. 14. Let your heart be broken as you see multitudes who are bent on pleasure with no regard to the death of Christ or his soon return. 15. Travel safely. 16. Return home with a good attitude.
Laila and I were privileged Sunday to attend a Team Amish (horse and buggy) worship service in an Amish home. About 150 people were present. We were received with great respect, invited to stay for lunch and then have dinner in the evening in the home of an Amish deacon. Monday AM we were invited to visit a one-room Amish school for grades 1-8 - about 20 students. This evening we have been invited to another Amish home for dinner.
We feel blessed. Refreshed. Excited for what God is doing through his people at Covenant. Grateful for team leadership.
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday. Pastor Bare and Laila from Lancaster, PA Philippians 4:8