Travel for rest

“What about travelling just to rest?  You didn’t mention that in your talk.  Sometimes I have no energy for anything but chilling out.  What do you think?”

This was one piece of helpful feedback I got from a student as I spoke in University of Limerick Christian Union.  As always I try to differentiate the question behind the question.  None of our questions are asked in a neutral mindset.

But from a theological point of view, rest is important.  I’m someone who needs to hear that.  It’s not wasted time.  It’s not any less spiritual than working or mission.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2)

Unlike I heard in a Youghal church one Sunday fifteen years ago, here, even God in His infinite being and capacity rests and calls a day “set apart” or holy.  For me, I think this creation ordinance that was kept long before the 10 commandments were given (Exodus 16 one example at least), is one we still have to keep today, for our good (and the good of society).  In the world that screams “survival of the fastest” (Os Guinness), nothing is a greater joy than to….

…stop.

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The view from a recent flight (Cork – Birmingham)

Stop and enjoy time with each other, and if you believe, time listening to God and with His people.  It’s the only way many small [family] businesses could still compete against corporate giants, if the country legislates against 24/7 opening.  I did it throughout my university education (at Nottingham) and thrived mentally because of it.

But our question lies in whether holiday should be complete rest time.  For some like myself, who are so consumed in pastoral situations across an island (both where I grew up and primarily in Munster), some of the mental freedom will come from completely removing myself from a situation and escaping somewhere where the phone can be switched off and the emails can’t be read.

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One of my past “escape” places, re-visited on a recent trip to England – University of Nottingham main campus (where I studied).

And so I think we also need rhythms of rest and work, and periods of life where things are complete rest.  Does this often need to be travel?  Perhaps not (as the older generation will often testify in their lives).  Can travel help mentally with this?  Most certainly.  My question would go back:

“Are you using your holiday to love God and love others?”

And sometimes, that’s completely resting and not visiting missionaries, nor growing in understanding about the Christian Church nor sending postcards to encourage others in the faith.  All this rest for the sake of honouring our bodies and minds that God has given us to use wisely, and for the sake of serving others better when we return.

As I grow in my love and enjoyment of Him, I tend to find however, that even my resting can be intentionally an active rest without forfeiting how deep-seated a rest it is.  We love to hide behind labels of introvert or extrovert, personality type, strengths and weaknesses, and I’m not saying these are insignificant.  But let us not unthinkingly hide away from sacrificial godliness because of a label.  I can tell you my Myers Briggs result, my Strengthfinder test results and many other results.  But it doesn’t stop the Holy Spirit taking my weaknesses and using them for the glory of the Father.  In fact, so often it’s what He delights to do.  Using me in areas I know are not my strength, at times I least want to be used by Him, and in places I want to get away from thinking about God!  What a joy!

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London, a city that never sleeps.  But still, rest can be found, perhaps even more so than in places that it’s possible to think you can capture every moment the city is awake.

Was our questioner keen on justifying travel without serving, or were they an over-burdened heart that was fast growing weary of this world and over-working to justify themselves?

My heart always tries to find Godly sounding reasons to justify what it wants to do (resting or over-working).  Perhaps they were too.  But in some cases, they’d be very right to rest completely.  So let me hold my heart accountable but not assume negative of others!

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One thought on “Travel for rest

  1. Pingback: A theology of travel: summary so far | al-jabr

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