“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NASB
Summer is barreling down on us. I say that as one who anticipates summer and the relaxation that I always dream of. The school year winds down, then sports and music commitments all come to a halt over summer break. I always love looking at my calendar and seeing all that sweet, sweet freedom before me. And then I get a little panicked as I watch the calendar fill back up again, almost twice as fast as it does in the fall.
All winter long, I look forward to the camping trips, day adventures, and late nights with friends around a fire in the backyard. They’re all things that for me, have come to represent summer. And I really believe that the Lord delights when we take time out of our regular lives, pause from the hectic paces and demands, and slow down to enjoy the beauty of his creation and rejoice in the gifts he has given us.
Just a change of scenery?
As a Mom, though, it can be so hard to face the reality of what summer vacation means. I’ve heard it said that for a mom, a vacation is just a change of scenery while you wash the dishes. It’s true, isn’t it? We can head out on holidays, but we don’t leave all the work behind us. We take our best and hardest work right along with us!
I tend to start to feel resentful of all the work that accompanies a holiday – the co-ordinating, the meal planning, the finding a laundromat to do a week’s worth of filthy clothes… the list goes on. Endlessly. I know I’m not the only one.
Doesn’t anyone see all the work that is going into this rest?! And then I remember: “Greater love has no man than this.”
Because really, who are our friends? Our people. Our tribe. The closest ones we lay our lives down for every day.
And if laying our lives down every single day glorifies God, that counts on vacation, too. God is glorified when we cheerfully track down the closest laundromat and toss in a pack of cards and a sweet treat to share to make the time pass.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:25 (KJV). If we cling to our idyllic dreamworld vacation, we will lose our life. We might be physically present, but we will be dragging around the long list of burdens and disappointments that are ruining it for us.
If we can trust God – if we can trust him to be there with us even if it feels like we will disappear – we will find our life. We will find the joy and freedom that there is in turning on your family’s favorite music and making washing dishes with the sulky teen into a dance party. We might find deep conversations while we get elbow-deep in soapy water with our husbands standing alongside us.
The miracle of vacation
And let’s get a bird’s eye view for a minute here. In Matthew 15, we see Jesus feeding the 5000 on a hillside. What happens after everyone is finished eating and gone home? What do we see the disciples doing?
They collected 7 baskets of leftovers. They had to clean up! I cannot even fathom how much work that was!
But part of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 was all the clean up that follows after it.
With this in mind, we can count our blessings, one by one.
It’s a miracle that we have a family to welcome home for the summer, and to go on holidays with.
It’s a miracle that our children can have an education, and that there are periods of rest from learning.
It’s a miracle that we live in a time and place and culture where vacation is a normal part of most people’s lives. When was the last time in the last 100 years of history that you can remember this being a possibility? I can think of places in the world today where our North American camping conditions would be better than their everyday living conditions.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV
So let’s remember to thank the Lord and go on vacation with hearts full of gratitude. He is the one who has set the work before us, and he will supply the strength to do it and the joy to fill our hearts as we pour ourselves out.
Each day is a gift! And the gifts that the Lord gives us come with work. Let’s cast off the resentment and the eye rolls and the big sighs because someone needs the potty NOW. Let’s spend the summer holidays all in – let’s love on our neighbors, our tribe. And let’s look to Jesus as we lay our lives down with great love.
Alyssa Donovan is a wife to an outdoorsman, and tames tangles on the heads of their five beautiful children. She’s grown up on the Alberta prairies, and captures wild yeast from the air to bake bread. She loves Jesus because He first loved her. Alyssa drinks coffee, homeschools, sweeps the floor, and dreams of one day having chickens. Alyssa also serves on the WE vision team and is the blog submissions editor. You can connect with her on Instagram @mrsalyssa.