By LESLIE LUDY
Every January, our family tries to get away somewhere together for a couple of weeks (preferably to a warm destination!) to rest, refuel, and build fun memories together before we head full swing into the intensity of a new year. Some of our most precious and memorable moments have happened on these winter getaways, and I’ve come to deeply cherish these family vacations, despite the inevitable logistical challenges that come along with such endeavors (fifteen-hour car rides with bored kiddos, getting lost in the middle of the night on our way to the condo, etc.) Right now, we are on our “family getaway” together in a warm and sunny place, and really enjoying each day of just being together and building sweet memories with our kids.
One thing I’ve noticed whenever I’m at a “vacation destination” is the stark difference between our culture’s mentality toward “rest and refueling” and Christ’s. Being around other vacationers demonstrates how we as humans are prone to run to anything and everything but God for our rest and refreshment. Most people’s idea of effective “down time” includes lazily sun-tanning by the pool for hours, indulging in exotic food and drinks, attending spectacular shows, watching loads of movies, catching all the college football games on TV, and spending entire days clothes shopping or playing golf.
But during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He had a very different solution for finding the refreshment and refueling He needed. Yes, Jesus did take “time away” periodically from the demands of the crowds and the intensity of ministry. But He didn’t need to lounge by the ocean or turn to worldly entertainment to find the rest and new strength He needed. Rather, the Bible describes many different occasions when Jesus resorted to a mountain alone to pray, or rose up early in the morning to spend time in God’s presence.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35)
And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46)
Jesus carried more weight on His shoulders than any of us can even imagine. Yet He knew that the only way to gain strength for the battles He was called to fight was to spend time alone with God in prayer.
Whenever I’m in need of rest, perspective, and new strength, I’m learning to look to the example of Christ, instead of the example of the world, to gain the refueling I seek.
Certainly there is nothing wrong with doing practical things in order to refuel and recharge. A long walk, a refreshing bike ride, an hour journaling outside in God’s creation, an encouraging chat with a trusted friend, or meaningful family vacation can be wonderful ways to gain clearer perspective. But it’s important not to give into the voice that whispers, You should deserve some self-indulgence right now. Give in to the cravings of your flesh, just for a little while. Take time for YOU!
Taking time away to refresh and refuel should flow from a motive of becoming even stronger and more equipped to serve Jesus Christ – not simply to “escape” from the responsibilities of serving and godly living.
Over the past several years in ministry and motherhood, I have found that the best “me time” is actually not “me time” at all, but “God time.” Prayer, journaling, worship, and reading Christian biographies produces far more lasting refreshment to my soul than vegging in front of a movie or going on a shopping spree.
When I say no to personal indulgences in order to say yes to time in the presence of God, I find I’m not missing out on anything. In fact, I find all of the lasting joy, peace, and strength I need in Him. Psalm 16:11 says that at God’s right hand are “pleasures forevermore.” May we allow that reality to be proven true in our lives, instead of turning to the empty allurements of the world.
Time alone with our God is truest source of refueling our souls can ever find.