Pastor’s Desk June 24th

Scripture Passage:  “And he said unto them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”  Mark 6:31
Dear Friends,
     The vacation season has begun.  The busy months of June and July usually mark the time families set aside to take trips and visit family.  Many businesses shut down over the Fourth of July weekend making it a convenient time for families to get away.  Others have to schedule a year in advance to be able to have people cover their shifts while they are gone.  Some have the luxury of being able to travel any time they please because of retirement and minimal responsibilities.  One thing I am convinced of – people have a lot more money than they did years ago, so the economy must be doing pretty good.
     Many thoughts come to mind as I ponder over past memories.  One thing I remember is that until I was a sophomore in high school, I had never been over 100 miles from my home.  We did not go to the beach because my family was not water lovers, nor could we afford it even if we were.  We did not go to the mountains, because we lived in them.  We went to two theme parks during those years which were based upon western themes – Silver Dollar City (now Dollywood) and Tweetsie Railroad and Gold Rush Junction in North Carolina.  Both were one day trips and admission would have taken a great deal of saving by my parents to be able to afford it.  I also remember us going camping and spending one night in a campground near the Smokey Mountains.  Our vacations consisted of going to grandparent’s house.  I loved to play with my Uncle Clay who was four years older than me.  We had family reunions and staying overnight at my grandparents was equivalent to a vacation.  To be able to fish or hunt was also considered as time off for us.  We looked for ways to spend time together as family and those events are some of my fondest memories.
     Jesus told his disciples to take time off from their activities and rest a while.  His admonition to go into a desert place was an invitation to spend time with him.  If you take a trip that requires you to drive eight to ten hours to get to your destination and you have to travel through several major cities, how rested are you when you get there?  You basically have one day traveling there and one day traveling back.  Even riding as a passenger in a car has never been restful to me.  Once you get there, what do you do? With my family, we pack “stuff” back and forth to the beach.  Over the years the beach buggy has gotten bigger and the mule (me) has gotten older.  I’m so tired by the time we get there and back, and sit out in the sun for hours, I have to lay down and take a nap before we head out to fight our way through the lines at the seafood house.  We normally go to some type of local attraction after supper or go play putt putt with the children.  We go back to where we are staying and play games or watch a movie until time to go to bed.  The next day the routine starts all over again.  When we get back from vacation, I need a vacation to get over the vacation.
     The next point I want to make is more serious in nature.  I want to be transparent and very honest with something that has always bothered me.  In our time away, do we spend more time with Jesus, or away from Jesus? Do we say we need a vacation from the church, morality, and yes, even Jesus for a week?  Do our activities say that we will pick Him up on our way back home?  As a man, if I spend a week on the beach with women in bikinis walking by, are my thoughts and heart pure before God, or are they defiled by immoral images?  If I go somewhere where I have to constantly be exposed to alcohol and gambling is my relationship with Jesus growing stronger or is Satan gaining a strong hold, even if I do not participate?  Is the money spent well invested in time spent with my family and the bond we establish or do we “blow money” on trivial pursuits that have no lasting eternal benefit?  We do not live in a monastery and I do not know of anywhere we can go and not in some way be exposed to the evil and immorality prevalent in our culture today.  My point is this – we have to purposefully plan our vacations so that even in our time away our lives honor God.  Here’s wishing you a restful, enjoyable, and God honoring vacation this year!
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny