This is not a blog on packing or things you forgot to pack. Though we did have a period in our lives when we never left for holiday once, but regularly turned back about a mile from home to pick up something we had forgotten. Once we left three times!
But rather it is a blog about the things that our recent trip to Devon reminded me about holidays. Positively:
1. Make your journey part of the fun.
This has nothing to do with the Bible, but it a helpful tip from me! The start and end of my holidays have been greatly improved since I realised that the arbitrary times that I set as the necessary hour of our departure and the necessary hour of our arrival were just that, totally arbitrary. I introduced loads of unnecessary stress into everyone's lives. Now we leave when we leave and we arrive when we arrive. And in between we listen to great story tapes. Sometimes we're sad to arrive because the story hasn't ended yet. If you want a Bible verse to hang this on, how about:
Matthew 6:27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
2. Take time to enjoy your family and friends.
The best fun that you ever have is enjoying time with people you love and who love you. That's because that is when we are most like the God who is in a perfect relationship of eternal love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. Physical rest is important.
We slept. The friends who lent us their house have a great bed. I think we had bed envy. We went to bed early. We got up late. The result is that I've arrived back with loads more energy. Funnily enough! We are created to need rest. Jesus, the perfect man, got tired and slept. Genesis 2:2 tells us:
"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."
4. God's creation is beautiful.
Yes it is cursed. But it still has extraordinary beauty. If you've ever had your breath taken away by a view, just imagine what the perfected new creation will be like!
We loved walking on the beach at Exmouth in the winter sunshine. Scrambling up Haytor in the wind. The kids loved running around on Dartmoor. They wanted to move there and then. Being outside pottering around together was fantastic.
5. Old friends are a huge blessing.
We were privileged to be looked after by old friends who lent us their house. And others who had us to stay and fed us so well that my gout returned the day we got home. There is something very precious about a shared gospel history. To be able to reflect on times serving Christ together. To rejoice in His love and His goodness to us over the years.
6. Holidays are still about service.
It's easy to think as holidays as times off Christian service. Well deserved "me" time. But that's not just wrong (sinful!) its also a recipe for not enjoying your holiday. Some of the best conversations we had were when we were able to encourage others and be encouraged ourselves. When we were able to listen to people's problems and be listened to ourselves.
We never take a holiday from loving people.
Which brings me on to the negative:
7. You don't leave sin at home.
I always think that I am going to be less sinful on holiday. How stupid is that! For one thing I am going to spend more time with my wife and children, rather than on my own, doing what I want, so I should expect to have my sovereign will denied more. Boo and I argued more on our week away than we have for a long time. It got to the stage where I was very happy to do the things she was suggesting - as long as she didn't suggest them!
Don't be naive and think that you won't need the forgiveness won by Jesus at the cross on holiday. And don't talk about your holiday when you get back as though you have achieved heaven! Because...
8. Devon is not heaven...
Devon is beautiful. But at church we caught up with people who had struggled with depression. There were announcements of people who had been diagnosed with cancer that week. There were people who were unhappy. People that were lonely.
A bit more rolling scenery is in the end just a bit more rolling scenery. It changes neither our hearts nor our struggles with life. Only Jesus can do that.
9. The dog is still incontinent
Yes Ed and Sally I'm sorry to say that never has your kitchen floor seen so much.... It wasn't just the smell, more of an issue was the viscosity!
Sometimes taking those you love on holiday has a cost. He had a lovely time. Me less so.
10. The Inbox fills up
I took the decision not to answer emails and messages whilst we were away. But inevitably they keep coming.
The great thing is that I have a bit more energy to deal with them now. I'm a bit less tired and so a bit less grumpy. And Boo and I have resolved to spend a bit more planned time together. That way we might not have so much to get off our chest after Easter....