Archive for July, 2009

Friday, July 17th 1 Samuel 17:45-49

July 17, 2009

“But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.” 1 Samuel 17:45-49

Now we reach the end of this story. The end of THIS story, not the end of THE story. Goliath falls. THIS Goliath falls. But David will face many more Goliath-sized challenges in his lifetime. There will be more battles for him to fight. More struggles for him to face.

His greatest battles will be fought within himself as he struggles between faithfulness and faithlessness. The struggles of marriage and infidelity, parenting and children who go their own way. There are many battles ahead for David. But Goliath has fallen.

Martin Luther often talked about the difference between a theology of glory and the theology of the cross. The theology of glory is about victory, progress, “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.” It is about human striving, human ability, human accomplishment. It sees Jesus as the great hero, the great example, the one we emulate and ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?”

The theology of the cross calls it as it sees it. A rejected and humiliated man hanging in agony on a cross – a vivid portrayal of God’s suffering love for his own, the central act of history. The cross defies any kind of easy categorizing of the world into good or evil. Saint and sinner, good and evil, death and new life are all there, both/and, always.

So we come to the end of the battle with Goliath and we are tempted to see it only as the triumph of brave David against evil Goliath. We are tempted to hear David’s reliance upon the God whom he trusts to bring victory as our example.

“Come on everybody, David slew Goliath by trusting in God, go on out there and get ‘em. You can do it!”

But that isn’t where I end up in my reading. I see the bigger picture. Yes, God is there in with and around David. Yes, David saw the reality of Goliath, he confronted his fear, he considered his own gifts, he responded to the call to serve, and he nailed him on the first shot. There are times when it works like that for us – when the Goliath-sized challenges of our lives melt away.

But the bigger picture tells us that there is always another Goliath just over the hill. And the Goliaths on the outside are often easier to defeat than those on the inside.

So we best not fight alone.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, all week long we have been listening to this story of David and Goliath. Each day, my heart has gone out to those who are facing challenges that feel bigger than life – sickness, unemployment, relationship struggles, war. Encourage us, each in our own battles, with the reminder that the battle truly does belong to you and that you will not abandon us in the fight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Thursday, July 16th. 1 Samuel 17:31-40

July 16, 2009

“When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”…. But David said, “The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you!” Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:31-40

When I was growing up, the best war movies starred Audie Murphy. The most decorated soldier of World War II, he almost didn’t get to serve. Only 5’5″, 110 pounds, he was turned away by the Marines and the Army Paratroopers. Finally allowed to join the regular Army, he served with remarkable courage.

Is that what it is about David? Is it remarkable courage that leads him to answer Goliath’s call? Or is it just plain foolhardiness? David’s eldest brother, Eliab, discourages him – “I know your presumption and the evil of your heart,” he says to him. Maybe Eliab is just jealous or maybe he knows something about the character of David that we haven’t yet seen.

Verses 24-27 help us see what drove David – The promise that the king would enrich the man who stopped Goliath (as the youngest son, David didn’t have many good prospects for life.) The promise of getting the hand of Saul’s daughter in marriage (you could marry into a worse family than that of the king.) The promise of freedom for his own family. And the real kicker – shutting up the guy who was causing the army of the living God to cower in fear.

In other words, David had many motives for offering himself to Saul. Some honorable, some less so. As David makes his case to Saul, he tells Saul (and he reminds himself) of the times in the past when God saved David’s life in the face of danger. Saul gives him a shot.

But Saul doesn’t want David to be unprepared so he lends him his weapons and armor. But they are too much for David. He can’t walk under their weight. Instead, he takes what he knows – five smooth stones, his sling and his shepherd’s staff.

What do we learn from this part of the story? If it is telling us that the only answer to Goliath-sized problems is the remarkable courage of an Audie Murphy or a shepherd boy like David, we’re in trouble. Few of us are heroes.

But every one of us has memories. Every one of us can remember those times when God sustained us in the past – such memories give us just what we need to confront the Goliath’s of life.

And every one of us has gifts and resources that God can use. We don’t have to take on someone else’s solutions and someone else’s answers that don’t fit us. With God’s guidance, we can find those five smooth stones that will prove to be all that we need.

We don’t need remarkable courage. We just need the willingness to step up to the plate and give it our best shot. Not because we are so brave, but because God is bigger than Goliath.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, when we feel overwhelmed by what we aren’t, what we don’t have, what we can’t do, we pray for your grace to open our eyes that we might see who we are, what we have, and what you can do through us. Help us find the five smooth stones that will prove to be all that we need. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 15th 1 Samuel 17:12-18

July 15, 2009

“Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.” 1 Samuel 17:12-18

Twice a day, for forty days, Goliath beat his chest. Forty days in a wilderness. Forty, a time of trial, testing and temptation.

Enter the calvary? John Wayne leading the reinforcements? Rambo in the wilderness? No, God sends David. The youngest son of a shepherd. Born in Bethlehem. Bringing lunch to his brothers in Saul’s army. An errand boy.

Jews can’t read this story without seeing the majesty of God being worked out through his lowly and unlikely hero, David. Christians can’t read this story without seeing all of the details which point to Jesus, the one who also discovered God’s providential care in the wilderness, the Good Shepherd.

But for now it is just David running lunch out to the boys. Little did he know what he would find once he got there.

Goliath-sized challenges are like that. We seldom anticipate them let alone plan for them. They are what happens when we are on the way to something else. Perhaps that is why they seem to be so much larger than life…they shock us as we round the next hill of life and suddenly hear their roar. There we stand, with nothing to fight back with but our lunch.

It is only Wednesday. The rest of the story awaits us. For now, please understand that this isn’t a story about Goliath. It isn’t a story about Saul and the army of Israel. It isn’t even a story about David. It is really a story about God – the God who uses Goliath-sized problems to redirect our lives and return us to himself.

For now, leave this story with the image of a young man surprised to see a giant roaring in the valley. A young man sent on one mission only to discover a far different one awaiting him. Like us – a young man seemingly, just seemingly, unprepared and ill equipped and inadequate.

Goliath isn’t going to just go away. And God isn’t going to forget.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, our shepherd, our guide, our protector, so often we feel exposed like lost sheep. We’ve run off on our own, surrounded by enemies, confused and afraid while Goliath roars in our ears. Still our hearts and silence our fears. Remember us, that we might remember you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, July 14th 1 Samuel 17:8-11

July 14, 2009

“He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” 1 Samuel 17:8-11

Athletes call it “trash talking.” I used to think it was great fun. When Yogi Berra said something along the lines of baseball being “110% mental and the other 90% hard work” he was pointing out the power of talking trash. Getting into your opponent’s head.

A famous Knute Rockne story tells of the time that he led his Fighting Irish – virtual unknowns from the sticks – out to California to play football. Before the trip, he rounded up every big guy he could find on the Notre Dame campus and gave them all uniforms. When the day of the game came, the Notre Dame players waited until the last minute to come out of the locker room. When they did – all of the big guys up in front – they circled the field before heading to their bench. An imposing sight! Game over.

Goliath, fully decked out for fighting, stood between the opposing armies and invited a challenger. An over-sized Bluto, he struck fear in the hearts of Saul and his men. But it was just words. It wasn’t a fear based on what was real (actually fighting Goliath) but a fear based on what possibly could be – actually fighting Goliath!

How often are our Goliath-sized problems, fears and challenges just like that? Fear of the unknown. Fear of what could be. Fear generated by the voices of those who have torn us apart in the past or potentially could in the future? How many of our fears exist only in our heads?

That isn’t to say that they aren’t real. Many people are immobilized by past trauma. Their Goliath-sized challenges stem from deep in their past but reach deep into their souls. They hear the voices belittling them yet feel powerless to defend themselves. Game over.

When you take the “could be’s”, “should be’s” and “might be’s” out of our thinking, life is a whole lot easier to live. But when Goliath is roaring in our ears, he is all we can hear.

Unless we take a moment for a deep breath. A moment to remember who we are, who we belong to. A moment to focus – not on ourselves but on the power of God within us. The power of God around us. One halting step follows and if that goes well we take another. One step at a time and God sustains us.

The deeper meaning of this story isn’t the fear generated by a trash talking Goliath. The deeper meaning is the good that God is soon to do despite Goliath’s prideful bluster. God is up to something. God is up to something in our lives.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, when we hear the voices which challenge us and see the obstacles that stand in our way, we can become immobilized by our fears and shrink. We pray, when our going gets hard, for the courage to trust in you and your power within us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, July 13th 1 Samuel 17:1-7

July 13, 2009

“Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes dammim. Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield bearer went before him. 1 Samuel 17:1-7

Goliath was a giant warrior. “Six cubits and a span” – according to the notes in my Bible – means he was about ten feet tall. Goliath Schwarzenegger. The Incredible Philistine Hulk.

Every time I read this story, I immediately imagine the assorted characters who crossed the television screen when I was a kid and my mom let me stay up late enough at night to watch All Star Wrestling. Goliath would have been a great bad guy. He had all the tools, including the attitude (more on that tomorrow.)

I used to think professional wrestling was real. Evidently, lots of people still do today. Or at least they are willing to suspend all vestiges of rationality in their enjoyment of the mayhem. Professional wrestling ranks among the highest sources of pay per view television. It is wildly popular. I’m not sure what it is that is so attractive – surely it has to be more than beef cake.

I wonder if the attraction has more to do with its simplicity. Good vs. Evil. Good that isn’t perfect vs. Evil that isn’t so bad. Evil that seems on the verge of victory until Good ultimately prevails.

That is there in the story of Goliath. As the Philistine bad guy, he personifies the challenges that awaited the Israelites as they continued their journey as God’s people. He was larger than life. Over the course of time, he kept growing. He became legendary, living in the collective unconscious as a symbol of all that stands in the way of our destiny as children of God.

In all of our lives, at any given time, we are faced with Goliath-sized challenges and problems. The more we think about them, the bigger they get. So we look for diversions that take our mind off them. Symbolic escapes. But Goliath isn’t going to go away.

The first step is to define reality. For the Israelites that day, reality consisted of a big obstacle named “Goliath”. But he probably wasn’t as big as they imagined him. He did have his weak spots. And most of all, they weren’t alone.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, as we begin a new week, we do so mindful of the challenges that await us. As we listen this week to the story of David and Goliath, we pray for your gifts of courage and insight, that we might grow through the struggles of our own lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday, July 10th Hebrews 4:9-16

July 10, 2009

“So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs. Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:9-16

I still teach the 10 commandments as they were taught to me by Dr. Jim Nestingen. The first commandment tells us that, since we are bound to have a god, we might as well have the right one. One that leads to life. If we are to have such a God, we need to be able to get in touch with him. So, in the second commandment, God gives us his name with the understanding that we use it for prayer, praise and thanksgiving.

And then the third commandment tells us that this God wants to have a word with us. This God, who has given us his name that we might call upon him, has given us a day in which he will come to us. Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy.

The writer of Hebrews further tells us about this God who wants to have a word with us in our daily lives. This God is the one who has been tested as we are tested, is able to sympathize with us in our struggles, and sits now on a throne of grace – ready, willing and able to help us when we need help.

This same Jesus is the one who stole away early in the morning for prayer. He is the same Jesus who took his disciples on a wilderness retreat before returning to have 5000 people over for lunch. The same Jesus who sat at the dinner table with friends and enemies. The one who rested by a well and brought life to a Samaritan woman.

This Jesus – the one who understands us, who sympathizes with us, who sees the naked truth about who we are – this is the Jesus that needs some time with us.

He invites us to come away to be with him. He invites us to his throne of grace, that we might boldly receive all that which he intends to give.

What we so often forget is that taking time to rest from our labors, taking sabbath time to refresh and re-create, is God’s command to us. The issue for the writer of Hebrews is that God’s rest is given to the obedient, not the disobedient.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we come to your throne of grace this morning, at the end of another week of giving ourselves away. Give us time this weekend to rewind and relax and recharge. Come to us as we gather before you in worship this Sunday. Give us that rest, that peace, that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday, July 9th Matthew 11:25-30

July 9, 2009

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30

There is a challenge to us in these verses. They put us in our place.

Jesus begins with a prayer of thanksgiving that the Father hasn’t revealed the depth of his will and love to the “wise and intelligent” but to infants. Speaking as one who is no longer an infant, I feel left out. I could use a little wisdom and intelligence these days.

Then Jesus tells us that these hidden things have been revealed to infants because that is what the Son has chosen to do. Again, I feel left out. Does that mean that Jesus has chosen not to reveal certain things to those of us beyond potty training?

Other verses from scripture now come to mind. Jesus telling the disciples not to prevent the little children from coming to him. Jesus laying in a manger. Jesus telling us that we must become as children. I hear the words of a hymn, “Have no fear little flock, have no fear little flock, for the Father has chosen to give you the kingdom, have no fear little flock.”

Then comes Jesus’ invitation. “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” Having been put in our place, now Jesus gives us a place where we can find rest for the weariness and heavy burdens that life as a “wise and intelligent” adult has bequeathed to us.

But then there is another challenge. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me…” At first, that yoke sounds like one more thing to do. One more burden. Maybe even the camel’s last straw?

There is a promise at the end of this text – you will find rest for your souls – that sounds so good that it makes it worth it to follow the whole story to the end. And suddenly we realize, we can’t pick up Jesus’ yoke unless we set everything else down. Then we see again that these words are spoken – revealed – to us. To infants. To ones dependent on Jesus. To ones who can’t do everything for ourselves and are not yet even at the stage where we want to.

Come to Jesus and you will find rest for your weary souls.

Let us pray: Abba, Father, our souls are restless until they find their rest in you. Hold us close. Walk beside us. Encourage us from the inside. Take from us our penchant for worry, that we might cast all of our cares unto you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 8th Luke 10:38-42

July 8, 2009

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

A seminary professor of mine once began class by inviting all of his students to describe themselves. Among the descriptions he was looking for was their favorite childhood story. Mine was the one about the ugly duckling. His was the lazy field mouse.

The story of the lazy field mouse tells of how all of the industrious field mice spent their entire summer preparing for the winter. They gathered up food, they shored up the walls of their homes. All summer long, morning until night, they worked to prepare for the winter.

But the lazy field mouse didn’t work. The lazy field mouse spent his summer playing in the grass, laying out on a rock in the hot sun, marveling at the sights of the rising and setting sun.

When winter came, all of the field mice had nice warm homes in which to live and plenty of food to last them all winter long. All except the lazy field mouse. He had no warm home and no food to eat. But he did have stories to tell.

So he went from house to house. The other mice would invite him in. They gave him shelter and food while he told his stories. He described the glories of a summer day. He told them of the colors of the rising and setting sun. And they were grateful for his stories.

There is a place in life to be a Martha and there is a place in life to be a Mary. It is so easy to be worried and distracted by many things. The older we get, the more the worries pile on. And there are so many voices that echo in our head that shame us for the “Mary times” in our lives…. don’t be lazy… don’t lay on the couch in the middle of the day… don’t forget to do your chores!

But now there is one more voice that speaks to us. This voice tells us “you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” It is the same voice that tells us that the sabbath was made for man and not the other way around.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, may we find our rest in you each day. In the midst of our busyness and all of our distractions, may we, like Mary, find a place at your feet and hear again the story which gives us lives that make sense. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, July 7th 1 Kings 19:9-13

July 7, 2009

“At that place Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9-13

Today’s Bible reading is like hearing the punch line of a joke without hearing the setup. If you have time today, I encourage you to go back to 1 Kings and read more of Elijah’s story. It has much to say to us about taking time off.

Elijah is in trouble with the authorities. He is running for his life, escaping to the wilderness. He stops to catch his breath under a tree and tells the truth about his feelings. He has come to the end of his rope. He can’t go on. He would rather die than continue the fight.

What happens next is really important – not only what happens but the order in which it happens. First, God provides for Elijah’s needs. God provides food and drink and God encourages Elijah to be on his way. Like Israel before him, and Jesus yet to come, Elijah takes a 40 day hike on the strength of that heavenly food. Only then does he get to the cave in today’s reading.

That is where God does the second thing that transforms Elijah. He asks a simple question, “What are you doing here?” It is a wonderful, profound, and yet so simple question. “What are you doing here?”

It is the sort of question that allows us to gain some perspective on our lives, on our purpose under God. It is the question that reminds us of the importance of every aspect of our lives – self care, love of others, worthwhile service, leaving a legacy for others. When we realize the “what” of our lives, we are a whole lot closer to discovering the “why” and the “who” of our lives. Without the “why” and the “who”, the “what” doesn’t make any sense.

My colleague in my first call, Pastor Don Carlson, taught me much about the importance of self-care and perspective. He taught me to say, “I can do 12 months worth of work each year in 11 months of working. But I can’t do 12 months of work in 12 months of working.” He saw the value of time off. He knew in his own life the value of getting away, renewing some perspective, and rediscovering his purpose.

The final part of Elijah’s story that speaks to us today is the marching orders that God gave to him after his sojourn in the wilderness. God sent Elijah back into community. He sent him to anoint kings and to get some help in calling Elisha. There is a time for solitude and a time for community. Both help us see the “why” behind the “what” of our lives.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, like Elijah, we all come to those places in our lives when we feel ourselves on the run from all of the pressures and trials of daily living. Yet even in those times when we are so empty, you come to feed us and care for us. Use our time away this summer for refreshment, recreation, but most of all, for renewal in our sense of purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, July 6th Genesis 2:1-13

July 6, 2009

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:1-13

Summer vacation is here. Time to rest. But you know what that means – spending two weeks getting ready to leave for a week. And then, a week later, coming back to all that piled up in our absence which means that we will work doubly hard for at least two weeks after we return. One week doing all that wasn’t done while we were gone and then the next week doing all that was put off the week before doing what should have been done the week we were gone.

Are we feeling rested yet?

I know I’m preaching to the choir on this one. We all know the value of rest. We all know the value of getting away with family or friends. Those experiences, rather than an escape from everyday life are actually opportunities to experience another aspect of life which often escapes us. Time together. Time away. Seeing new faces and old friends. Reconnecting with family. New coffee mugs and “All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” gifts. Vacation.

My children’s grandparents have gone to the same campground in Minnesota for at least the past 40 years. Their favorite vacation spot must feel like home. Yet they still get away. I think therein lies a pretty important point.

When Genesis tells us that God rested on the day after he had finished the work of creation, he didn’t escape from creation. He rested in it. He took time to enjoy it. He blessed that sabbath time.

For all of you who are reading this, on the eve of summer vacation, enjoy all of the sights and sounds of your preparation. Open yourself to the life that happens as you negotiate the schedules and the plans and the seating arrangements in the van. Value these days for the blessed times that they are.

And take lots of pictures. You’ll be glad later that you did.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, most of us are pretty good at non-productive time but easily stressed by taking time off. Protect those who travel, guide those far from home, help us to value our rest and recreation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.