The Importance of Getting Away
Our lives are hectic and full of activity and we can become a bunch of hamsters running on the proverbial hamster wheel if we don’t take the time to “stop the madness” and make a conscious choice to step away from the wheel of life. Everyone needs the time to push the reset button. We get ourselves in a rut of our own making when we don’t take the time to get away and rest. This kind of rest should be a regular occurrence not a once a year luxury.
I have found much value in setting up daily, weekly, seasonally, annually, and every decade special times to get away from it all.
First I want to start with daily. Daily I do my very best to carve out time in the morning to focus my heart and mind on things above. We can get so bogged down with the activities of daily living that we get on with our day and forget to even acknowledge the One who created us and the days ahead for us. This can be a time of silence and solitude, a time of Scripture reading and prayer, a time of worship and meditation. Mostly this is a time to listen and set your compass and path for the day. I acknowledge that I may have a plan for the day but I surrender and submit my plan to His great plan for me. Some days I have more time than others and some days I have just a few minutes to read a devotional and say, “Good Morning Lord! I love you but I gotta get running into my busy day.” As you make this a regular practice and a habit it becomes an addiction. It is like when you first fall in love with someone and you cannot think of anything else. You think about them all through your day and cannot wait to be with them. The more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you want to spend with the Lord. I know that if I don’t start my day with my Father who loves me it just doesn’t go as well as I would like. I picture in my mind God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit sitting in my front room waiting for me to come and be with them. I can choose to walk by and ignore them or I can choose to spend some great time talking and listening to them. If I choose not to hang out with them, they still love me and will be with me throughout my day. It is as if they then just follow me out of the room and wait to be acknowledged as I rush through my day. We tend to see rest as the place we fall into after we’ve worn ourselves out with work. But what is our best work and best days begins from a place of rest? What if resting takes first priority rather than last?
To be healthy spiritually, emotionally and even physically we need to set aside a Sabbath day each week to refresh, refuel, spend time with family members, and most of all to relax and listen to our Heavenly Papa who desires so much to spend time with his kids. He wishes to refresh and refuel us for the week ahead. The word Sabbath literally means to rest from labor. When we set aside one day a week to rest from the grind of life and do the things that bring joy to our heart our lives become fuller and we begin to live life rather than survive life. Since Sunday is a day of ministering to others for me, I take Tuesday as my Sabbath Day. I begin the day by sleeping in as long as I can. I then lay the day out in front of me like a great feast and do the things that delight my heart. This can be a hobby, talking to friends, going to a prayer meeting, I don’t plan it all out, I just have been doing my best to go with the flow of the day, keeping in mind that it is my Sabbath Day of rest.
We should also be intentional about setting up times of extended personal communion with God. This can be on a monthly, quarterly or seasonal basis. I know I am due for an EPC Day when, despite my regular daily times with the Lord and my weekly Sabbath, I still feel the tensions rising, my temper getting shorter, depression setting in and so forth. When I take a personal inventory and I cannot honestly say “It is well with my soul”, it is time to spend time with the great physician. EPC Days are days when we are intentional about focusing on God for refreshing, refocusing, direction and guidance. When I start to feel like a ship lost at sea, I know it is time to turn toward my lighthouse and spend time reviewing the map again. It can feel selfish to step away from life when a storm is raging, we are tempted to put our nose to the grindstone and strive our way to solutions. I have found that this only leads to burnout and more anxiety and depression. When I step away from my circumstances even if only for a few hours and intentionally seek the Lord’s company and direction I rise above the storms and if even for a moment, I get a new perspective, a heavenly perspective.
It is also very important to take vacations. I just got back from a lovely time in Mexico where I spent a week with friends. This was a wonderful time to connect deeper with my spouse and to grow even closer with some friends. These folks have been friends for nearly 20 years but in our busy lives we rarely get uninterrupted extended times to really share our lives. When you spend a week away with someone you really get to know them on a deeper level. I would like to offer one word of caution, choose wisely who you invite into your vacation rest times. Not everyone is restful for you.
I also understand that not everyone can afford to travel but even a road trip to a new area that you haven’t explored before can be a great way to rest and reset. I’ve even done stay-cations where I’ve pretended I was on vacation and relaxed at home. Watching good movies, reading good books, turned off my phone and unplugged for a few days. I consider camping trips for a few days a vacation too. Vacationing does not have to cost a fortune and the return on your investment in spiritual, emotional and physical health is so worth it!!
As I’ve passed the 50 mark I am realizing more and more how short life is. We don’t have too many times to go around the sun and we need to make the best of it! So when I turned 40 my husband, Ed and I decided that we were going to celebrate the decade markers of my life. For my 40th we crossed off a bucket list item and went on our first cruise to Alaska. We saw areas of this country that have never been touched by a human as we flew over the Misty Fjords by float plane in Ketchican. It was one of the most memorable times in my life. To just see and experience the beauty that God created for us.
For my 50th we took another cruise to the Bahamas and the Lord showed me it was time to visit some old friends that we had a close relationship with through our church. I was able to coordinate spending time with two of my closest friends and their families while we were in the area. We spent a week in a timeshare rental and lived some great life together. We stayed up till 2 or 3 in the morning every morning talking and praying for each other. I know it was a God ordained time.
It is these times of rest that I cling to as I go through the struggles and hardships of life. Jesus promised that in this life we will have hardship but we can still rejoice because he also said that He overcame the world. My friends and I were joking when we came back from Mexico about bottling the vacation experience so that we can open it up and take a good long breathe of it when days were dark or hard. If we are going to be able to stand strong and fight the good fight of faith we must take care of ourselves by taking the time to acknowledge God daily, lean into him and rest weekly, schedule regular times of Extended Personal Communion to avoid burnout, and celebrate life with regular vacations. As we move into the summer months that are traditionally the times people schedule vacation I wish you many adventures, rest and refreshing. God is on the move and His people need to be well rested and ready!!