Torch, Summer 1987

captured the statement of the prophet Isaiah who called the sabbath a delight. In addition to the weekly sabbath, yearly Jewish feasts included serious times like Passover and joyous and festive occasions such as the one day Feast of First Fruits when the men brought the offerings of their harvests to Jerusalem and were met at the boundaries of the city by the priests and Levites. Pentecost was a time of rejoicing with family and with unfortunate classes of the commu– nity such as widows and orphans. The Feast of Booths or Tabernacles sounds like something modem day camping enthusiasts might have enjoyed, as the Israelites used palm and willow branches to make booths in which they lived for a week. Scripture also speaks of times of family celebra– tion which were not religious-based. Sheepshearing, weddings, and national holidays like the birthday of a king were joyous occasions which lasted sometimes as long as a week. So they didn't have two-week vacations like we do now, and with travel being as primitive as it was in those days, they certainly could not have gone through New England in two weeks! But these occasions I've men– tioned were intensely celebrative. You see, the Hebrews were not ascetics -- an austere self-denying people. They danced and feasted and laughed and cried and were rich in their tradition. Was it not Jesus Himself who said, ' 'The Son of Man came eating and drinking.'' Woven into the very fabric of the life of the chosen people of God was this regular need for REcrea– tion and recreation. And we can assume that the Lord not only saw the value of breaks in the work routine, but went so far as to establish such times and insisted on their being observed. How about your vacation? If your vacation is for you a time of REcreation and recreation, I'm quite certain that God will have no problem with it. In fact, He 'd want this year 's vacation to be the best one you've ever known . Now what do I mean by REcreation? Well, what I think of when I use that term is being restored to the balance the Lord had in mind when He made me. So a break from the routine of labor, whether it be for a weekend or a once-a-year event , could be an occasion for restoration physically , spiritually, mentally , or socially--depending on one's needs. A pastor who is involved continually with spiritual matters may do well to think primarily in terms of the physical when considering his restorative needs. A grade school teacher, on the other hand, might be wise to think through how to restore herself socially or spiritually. A Christian construction worker could use part of his vacation to catch up on reading. Consulting the Lord regarding what is most needed for balance does have value. Why not make God your vacation consultant? Even if you already have plans as to where you ' II be going, talk with Him about what you need in order to truly experience REcreation. As the Originator of fitting breaks of various kinds for His people, I believe His thoughts could be of real help to you. He might say, " Ralph and Betty, you're always pushing yourselves too hard. Don 't drive yourselves during vacation, too. Slow down some. REcreate. '' ' 'Pat, you seldom have taken time to restore spiritually. Plan for some good Christian input this vacation. Visit a Christian bookstore before you take off and schedule yourself to be near a good church on those Sundays away.'' "Pete, you ' re with non-Christians all the time. More experience with other believers would do you some good. Why not check out some of the exceptional Bible conferences around? ' ' Of course I'm just making these up. But what I'm suggesting is that you talk to the Lord in prayer as you lay out for Him your plans. That 's in contrast to assuming that God would do well to keep his nose out of your vacation thoughts. Perhaps all your life you ' ve wanted to have a week at a first-class golf resort and you 're going this year, come what may. Maybe God agrees. But it' s strange that vacation plans for many people are a matter they have never prayed about. And if past vacations haven ' t been restorative for you , why not give my suggestion a try? Ask God: how do I REcreate as well as recreate this year? (By recreation I mean have fun .) But where do I need balance, Father? Is my greatest need spiritual, physical, social , mental? Help me please! In this context of talking over your vacation plans with the Lord, be assured that God wants you to experi– ence the best vacation you 've ever known. He doesn't want you to feel guilty about spending reasonable monies for vacationing even though people are starving in Africa. Breaks from the work routine of people are important toHim. But then God doesn't want to be totally left out of any important area of your life -– and that includes vacationing. So at least talk with God about your plans. In Luke 2:52 we see God rearing His Son so that Christ increased in wisdom (mental) , in stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and man (social). I believe that kind of balance is how the Lord wants us to mature as well. And evenings, weekends, days off, holidays and vacations afford us time to become all God wants us to be. Let us then cooperate with this One Who was first to conceive of break times from the normal work cycle and Who, when consulted, makes all of life better. 9