Going on holiday is an ideal opportunity for prayer, refreshment, and renewed passion in our walk with God, says Matt Stone.
Earlier this month, Jenni and I had a week’s holiday in Northumberland. It was great to get away from it all: there was no telephone, hardly any mobile signal, and no internet access. Hurrah! The scenery was beautiful, and it was wonderful to spend some quality time with each other.
Nonetheless, I always feel slightly guilty about taking holidays. Holidays can be expensive: wouldn’t it be better if I gave the money away to a worthy cause? Holidays can create a big carbon footprint: wouldn’t it be better to stay at home? There’s also not much evidence that Jesus ever went on holiday, even if he did make time for regular retreats and the pilgrimages to Jerusalem at the Jewish festivals. So are holidays ever redeemable from a Christian viewpoint? At the risk of writing an article just to justify my next holiday, here are three reasons I believe some time away from home can be a real blessing to our spiritual lives:
Holidays give us PERSPECTIVE.
So often we allow problems, worries or other situations in our lives to become all-consuming, and it’s really hard when we are in the middle of them to see the bigger picture. But going away for a few days and getting away from it all can help us get a fresh perspective.
I often go away on holiday feeling a bit low, weighed down by challenges and frustrations. But when I am away, thanks to spending time with Jenni and having the opportunity to admire God’s creation, I am usually reminded of the many blessings God has given me – which far outweigh the challenges.
Holidays give time for serious PRAYER.
There is a risk on holiday that we fall out of all of our usual routines, including that of making time to pray, worship, and read our Bibles. But if we manage to avoid this pitfall, holidays can be a time for serious prayer. Walking along a gorgeous section of the Northumberland coastline can be a great prompt to praise and thank God.
Having time to just sit and be without a long to-do list can be what we need to reflect on where our lives are heading, and to seek God’s guidance. Without the ‘white noise’ of emails and Facebook, it’s easier for the conversation with God to carry on throughout the week and for us to really listen to what God might be saying to us.
Holidays can give us renewed PASSION.
If we’re honest, most of us most of the time, do not feel passionate about our day-to-day home and work lives. But I believe God wants us to be passionate about them. Work is not just about putting food on the table, it’s about being a part of God’s plans and purposes for the world. We can’t be on holiday all of the time, for our day-to-day lives are where we are called to grow the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25); to model godly character (Rom. 5:3-5; Col. 3:12-17); to minister grace and love (1 Cor. 13); to shape culture (1 Pet. 3:8-14; James 3:17-18); and to share the good news about Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 3:15).
Jesus died and Jesus rose again to transform our day-to-day lives... but we can all too easily forget this. Holidays can give us a fresh perspective, and the opportunity to draw near to God in prayer, which can give us a renewed passion to serve God when we get back home again.
So if you’re going away for October Half Term week, or at any other time, go on holiday with God. Make the most of a precious opportunity to be refreshed and transformed for God’s Kingdom and God’s glory.
Rev. Matt Stone is a minister in the Norwich Area group of United Reformed Churches.
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