I don’t know about you, but summer always means vacation for my family. I’m a strong believer in regular getaways. I think it’s healthy for body, soul and spirit. I can hardly remember a toy or gift I received from my parents, but I can recall a number of family camping/fishing trips, visits to national parks and even a trip to Disneyland! My family bonded around campfires, casting for trout and skipping stones. So, when I became a parent, I doubled down even more on what had meant so much to me growing up.
There’s a biblical precedent for doing so.
Reading this, you may have just said to yourself, “What?! Where in the Bible does it say, ‘Thou shalt take a regular vacation?’”
Well, it doesn’t say it quite like that. But in Leviticus when God is delivering directions about keeping His annual feasts, He gives His people a rather quirky (by our standards) directive: “Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year … live in booths for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:42, emphasis mine) In my Bible, I have this handwritten personal note: Similar to camp.
The Israelites probably had more permanent homes of some sort by then. To live in booths (tents) for seven days was to try something different, something a bit more primitive and yet fun and commemorative. Like camping, they had to think ahead about meals, clothing and activities. And notice God tells them to “celebrate” this time for a week (a great vacation length!). This was not some somber, down-in-the-dumps funeral dirge! This was a whoop-it-up time for R&R and spiritual growth. I’m guessing the Israeli kids could hardly wait each year to leave their homes behind and “rough it” in the family tent!
Assuming you haven’t yet made your summer “booth” plans, may I make a couple of suggestions?
First, just do it. Whether it’s to the beach, lake, mountains, desert or another country, just go! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known who use their two or three weeks of vacation each year to do something like paint their house, do some freelance work, or re-tile their bathrooms! If you go that route, your kids will remember your “vacations” all right, but only with a sense of feeling short-changed.
Second, if you are taking a vacation this summer, consider a tech-free one. Why not leave all the cell phones at home? (Take just one for emergencies.) Say no to electronic games, laptops, tablets and individualized earbuds/headphones (although accessing music for the entire family may be relaxing). With no phones and tablets, there’s no temptation to check up on your work email. Plus, you’ll never lose sleep that you may have chosen the wrong emoji or completely covfefed your last tweet! And if you have an RV (a rather nice booth!) with a satellite dish, consider pulling the plug.
But even if the non-tech vacation suggestions don’t sit well with your wired-in family, please do get away this summer … or this year. It’s a great way to bond as a family. A great way to experience more of His handiwork. A great time to catch up on a few books. A wonderful time to meditate deeper on God’s Word, seek His face and pray more, too.
Also, if your vacation plans takes you to Lancaster, Pennsylvania or Branson, Missouri, consider taking in the Sight & Sound performance of Jonah (PA) or Moses (MO). Both are incredibly well done in their telling of their biblical stories! My wife and I recently caught the live performance of Moses and watched the video version of Jonah. We were blown away!
At Plugged In we’re all about making wise entertainment choices and guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). I write this blog because a great vacation can be great entertainment. What’s more, because a great vacation can have a powerful spiritual (and family-bonding) component, it can go a long way to helping heal our hearts and cause us to be more reflective and open to the Lord and to others.
And if you do take a non-tech vacation, email me and let me know how it went (Bob.Waliszewski@fotf.org).