Think about it: What are you vacating? “Oh, I just need to get away!” From what? To what?
Some people just can’t wait to escape from the humdrum of their everyday work life, but they don’t plan their vacation very well. As a result, the time off is over before they know it, and they’re right back at the old grind. Other people tend to over-plan their vacation, scheduling every moment with activities, and spending too much money in the process. They return to work worn out and in a financial hole.
The reason we use the word vacation to describe our planned times away from work probably comes from the lifestyle developed by the English landed upper classes during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.* It was normal to have a year-round family estate in or near the city where the family head had an office to do business and protect and enhance his financial legacy, but also to have a summer residence in the country. By mutual agreement, most business activity would slow down during the summer months, so that the whole of upper-class society could enjoy an annual change-of-pace.** People with money would totally vacate their usual home for their annual move to the country.
As I tried to think of a more positive way to see our change-of-pace times, a phrase in the Twenty-Third Psalm came to mind:
He restores my soul.
Wouldn’t that be a great new name? Instead of looking forward to my Vacation, I’m going to look forward to my Restoration!
Look at the context in the surrounding phrases:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
It’s all so calm and peaceful: lie down; green pastures; still waters. That’s how my soul gets restored. Not from trying harder, being anxious, feeling guilty.
I looked harder at the Hebrew word translated as “restores.” I found other nuances in the Hebrew, and they can be expressed by words like: repairs, rebuilds, renews, replenishes. All of these words begin with re-, which means doing something again. That’s fitting, because what I need is to have my soul brought back again to a condition of health and strength.
My soul gets worn out, drained, used up. It needs to be restored regularly. I should look at my annual Vacation as a Restoration, a refilling, or refueling of my soul. I should plan things that will cooperate with God’s design for restoring my soul. I should look at my weekly worship the same way. And my daily prayers. And my every breath.
I need constant restoring.
— Pastor George Van Alstine
* Masterpiece Theater fans will totally get this.
** Working class people didn’t get to go on vacation