We were on holiday last week. In Wales. Where else would you want to go?
Sometimes people suggest to me that holidaying in Wales is a bit dull. Not just in terms of the weather, which was consistently overcast all week, but in terms of the sense of adventure. We have been on more adventurous holidays. Not the extreme sports sort of adventure holiday, which involves activities that even if I could afford them, I wouldn't want to pay for. Being terrified of heights, small spaces and drowning in large open expanses of water tends to limit your wet and wild holiday fun! But rather we have been on the journey of discovery type of holiday.
One year we drove to Rome and back, camping on the way. We followed it a couple of years later by driving to Barcelona and back, towing my parents caravan. One of our older daughters summed up the adventure experience as led by her father: "They were the sort of holidays that you enjoyed with hindsight!"
The problem with these trips was my mental attitude. On the first I was like General Paton at D-day. There was an objective: Get to Berlin! (Or in our case Rome) And therefore we had to push upward and onward. Apparently sight seeing should usually be done at a pace that allows the beauty of the surroundings to at least come into focus before you move on.
The second trip was improved by a slightly less gruelling itinerary, but spoilt by a considerably more miserable father. I was in probably the most introspective, and therefore gloomiest, period of my life and was pretty much no fun to be around. When things didn't go my way I'd retreat into despondent self-pity and mope around. I know.... glad you weren't there!
Back to this week in Wales. Which was a wonderful time. The last two times that we have stayed in our cottage there have been far less relaxing or jolly. There was no difference in the weather or the company or the accommodation. The only tangible difference was my mental state.
The two previous occasions I have been determined to have me time. Read my books. Not get interrupted. Not see people. Not have to sort out any problems. Naturally this has meant that I have resented all the interruptions. People who wanted to see us. Small children who asked that I read their books and things that have gone wrong with the house that needed fixing.
Selfishness brought misery.
This time I decided that I'd focus on trying to send a little more time with the kids. Do what I could on the house when I had to. Enjoy catching up with friends and family who lived close by. And accept that the time of the journey there and back was largely out of my control and governed the speed of the car in front (though I did manage some impressive overtaking on the A5!).
Rest in the Bible is not simply a physical state, a time of not doing work, it is a spiritual state, a time spent enjoying relationship with God and His people. We enter the rest of relationship with God through faith in Christ. In the Bible the writer of Hebrews contrasts Christians with the disobedient people of God in the Exodus.
"For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest..." (Hebrews 3:2-3)
At the same time we look forward to a final rest that God's people will enjoy in our home in the New Creation with the Lord Jesus. There we will enjoy perfect relationship with him and each other. Until then our focus when we rest shouldn't be on ourselves, but rather on taking the opportunity to devote more time to our relationship with God and others. And to having good food, sleep and fun as well!