Taking a Vacation from God?

Baseball. Barbecues. Bathing Suits. Are you ready for a summer vacation? 

How about a vacation from God?

That sounds irreligious to say, but let’s be honest. It’s tempting to have that mindset during Summertime.

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Bible gets dusty.
Prayer life shrinks.
Selfies by the pool take priority over acts of service.

After all, the Salvation Army only rings the bell during the Christmas season, so people less fortunate than me must be having fun too, right?

It’s not just individuals who hit pause on spiritual growth.

Churches—at least the ones in my area—are less active after Memorial Day. Other than a Family Camp or Vacation Bible School, the church calendar has a lot of white space.

Women’s Bible studies take a summer break. So do children’s Awana clubs. Small community groups within a church, that meet weekly in homes, are on hiatus.

Even church attendance and tithing is lower during summer. For even if a family has a staycation instead of going out of town, who wants to wait until Sunday afternoon to go on a hike or swim in the lake?

It’s not like God’s a killjoy. The Bible mentions festivities and God’s mandate for people to celebrate life.

Didn’t Jesus say, “the Sabbath was made for man.” We’re meant to rest at least one day out of the week. So why not set aside two weeks of vacation or three months of recreation?

Have I struck a nerve, yet? I hope you know I’m playing devil’s advocate.

I’m also NOT trying to guilt anyone or tell people how to spend their summer. I’m right there with other red-blooded Americans—weaving warm memories with my loved ones this summer.

However, conviction tugged my heart when I put on my sunscreen.

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Summer break from school and normal routines are no excuse to ignore the Lord. I still need to seek God’s presence through His Word and prayer. I need to put on the armor of Christ as faithfully as my sunscreen.

I need to, but I also WANT to spend time with the Lord this summer because He doesn’t take a vacation from me.

He is ever present. And He longs to have a relationship with each of us that isn’t one-sided or confined to nine months of the year.

So why would I consider a sabbatical from the One who loves me with an everlasting love, and redeemed my soul?

The Bibles says, “Rejoice in the Lord, always!”

Always. Even in this… good ole Summertime.

 

Photos:www.JennyWredePhotography.com

 

For Better or Worse

BoquetThis is a re-post from last June. I’ve updated the years, but the sentiment remains true.

Like many couples getting married in June, I too was a blushing bride…thirty five years ago.

This morning, after my shower, I wanted to wish my husband a “Happy Anniversary.” He was on the back patio reading the news off his laptop.

No bridal gown today. Dressed in a frumpy, white bathrobe, my hair was wet and tangled. No  makeup. And I’m twenty-two pounds heavier than the day I said “I do.”

 Half-joking, I pointed to my dowdy appearance, “For better or worse!”

“That’s okay.” My husband teased. “My eyesight isn’t as good as the day we married.”

On June 30th, 1979 we made a covenant before God and became one flesh. God’s grace, a sense of humor, loyalty, communication, and selflessness kept us together. Prayer was also necessary to soften our hearts towards each other during hard times.

Today, I studied my husband’s unshaven face, his graying hair, the laugh lines around his blue eyes. It’s difficult to imagine my life without him walking beside me.

Praise God, I didn’t call it quits whenever my husband rubbed me the wrong way, crimped my style. I’m blessed to find a husband who loves me when I least deserve it, never keeps an account of the things I’ve done wrong.

No wonder marriage is the image God uses to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His Church. Wedding vows are worth remembering, when marriage seems too familiar.

“I, Karen, take thee, Dan, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith/myself to you.”

The words are similar to God’s irrevocable covenant with His beloved.

I, Yahweh, the Great I Am, take Karen, to be the Bride and Body of Christ.

To have and to hold…: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

For better, or worse: “My grace is enough for you….” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

To love and to cherish: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Till death do us part: “Neither death or life can separate you from the love of God.”(Romans 8:38, 39)

According to my Holy plan, I pledge myself to you.

“Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9)

Have you been invited?

A Dose of Cabin Fever

“It’s snowing!” my teenage son exclaimed as he helped my husband carry the seven-foot Douglas Fir to our truck. Snowflakes and the scent of pine needles bolstered our “Christmas spirit.”

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Next morning, our rural property was a winter wonderland. I watched my husband drive away on business, leaving tire tracks down the steep driveway.  

Son and I huddled indoors and enjoyed a leisure weekend. But with frigid temperatures, and no road salt or sun rays to melt our icy driveway, my “Christmas spirit” morphed into “Cabin Fever.”

Monday afternoon, I stood at the window as though I was a prisoner in solitary confinement.

With the exception of my son, who is a young man of few words, I hadn’t spoken to a soul for three days. Even Facebook friends were quiet as a mouse.

I wasn’t bored. I’d been productive. But even as an introvert, I needed me some people.

God created us for relationship. He pursues us.

Even so, God looked at Adam and said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So He made a helpmate, a woman.

Family and Tribe are vital in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the emphasis shifts to the adoption of believers into the Body of Christ, but there remains the need for corporate worship.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….”(Hebrews 10:24,25)

  

However, I don’t think the Lord intends for me to commune on Sabbath morning while “we’re assembled” and then go my separate way for six days.

I can be isolated and still read my Bible, pray, and worship the Lord.

But it’s difficult to give and receive love, comfort, encouragement, accountability, and prayer when I’m alone.    

A dose of Cabin Fever reminded me of two Facebook acquaintances in desperate need of the above.

One has been in the hospital since September, and the other is confined at home. God sustains, but without community, their spirits wither like grapes on a vine.

Weary, heartsick Caregivers beg for people to reach out with cards, phone calls, or visits to show their loved one is not alone.

Perhaps it takes being alone to understand, and moved to action.

Tuesday brought warmer temperatures, and the arrival of my stalwart husband, to rescue me. Free at last, I drove to the grocery store, thankful to rub elbows with the human race.

People are flawed creatures, but I’m convinced we need one another for better or worse, in sickness and health….

What better time than the Christmas season to find a lonely person and SHOW them the love of Christ? 

 

   

 

          

For Better or Worse

Boquet

Like many couples getting married in June, I too was a blushing bride…thirty four years ago.

This morning, after my shower, I wanted to wish my husband a “Happy Anniversary.” He was on the back patio reading the news off his laptop.

No bridal gown today. Dressed in a frumpy, white bathrobe, my hair was wet and tangled. No  makeup. And I’m twenty-two pounds heavier than the day I said “I do.”

 Half-joking, I pointed to my dowdy appearance, “For better or worse!”

“That’s okay.” My husband teased. “My eyesight isn’t as good as the day we married.”

On June 30th, 1979 we made a covenant before God and became one flesh. God’s grace, a sense of humor, loyalty, communication, and selflessness kept us together. Prayer was also necessary to soften our hearts towards each other during hard times.

Today, I studied my husband’s unshaven face, his graying hair, the laugh lines around his blue eyes. It’s difficult to imagine my life without him walking beside me.

Praise God, I didn’t call it quits whenever my husband rubbed me the wrong way, crimped my style. I’m blessed to find a husband who loves me when I least deserve it, never keeps an account of the things I’ve done wrong.

 

 

No wonder marriage is the image God uses to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His Church. Wedding vows are worth remembering, when marriage seems too familiar.

“I, Karen, take thee, Dan, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith/myself to you.”

The words are similar to God’s irrevocable covenant with His beloved.

I, Yahweh, the Great I Am, take Karen, to be the Bride and Body of Christ.

To have and to hold…: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

For better, or worse: “My grace is enough for you….” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

To love and to cherish: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Till death do us part: “Neither death or life can separate you from the love of God.”(Romans 8:38, 39)

According to my Holy plan, I pledge myself to you.

“Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9)

Have you been invited?

Must I Go to Church?

DSCN2047Must I go to church today?

As I rolled over in bed, every muscle in my body ached. I’d spent the previous day pulling weeds from my garden.  I don’t feel like going anywhere.

Excuses whined in my head:

I need the rest.

I had to go somewhere every day last week, I deserve a break.

I can listen to praise music and worship God in my home.

I can read my Bible and pray in my recliner.

I won’t be missed.

Notice the word “I” stood center stage.

 

Rolling out of bed, I stumbled to the bathroom sink and splashed lukewarm water on my face.

Am I behaving like a lukewarm Christian?

So what if I’d had a busy week. Should church be less of a priority than the multitude of other activities on my agenda?

 Is church attendance an option?

 Guilt squeezed my chest, dragged me to church where I purposely sat by myself in the last pew.

  The worship band played. I sang, but there was no song in my heart.

 Someone prayed. I bowed my head, but my mind wandered.

“See!” An inner voiced mocked. “You should have stayed home.  Coming to church out of obligation is legalism. You can go through the motions, but God sees your heart!”

I turned to Psalm 19 and followed dutifully along in my Bible as the Pastor read:

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“The heavens are telling of the glory of God. And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”

As he continued reading verses 7-11, my dutiful heart became deliriously devoted.

“The law of the Lord is perfect…”

“The testimony of the Lord is sure….”

 “The precepts of the Lord are right….”

“The commandment of the Lord is pure…”

“The fear of the Lord is clean…”

“The judgments of the Lord are true….”

Notice GOD’S NAME stands center stage.

Focused on God and His Word rather than my feelings, excuses, or moods….

My soul was restored…and my mind made wise. (Verse 7)

My heart rejoiced…and my eyes enlightened. (Verse 8)

And that is why I must go to church.

For I know I’ll hear God’s Word and meditate on the ONE whose glory is revealed in the heavens. And I’ll worship the only ONE who is able to keep me from sins and forgive my transgressions because ….

The Lord truly is “my rock and my Redeemer.” (Verse 14)

There are no other options.