I wonder sometimes if recounting one’s summer vacation with others isn’t a little risky. I’m very aware that many of us work long hours, and carry more than one job, with few benefits and little opportunity for vacation. With that in mind, I want to say that I am very grateful as your pastor for the opportunities I’ve been given to spend refreshing time with my family each summer. We know that rest is an essential part of the rhythm of life, even if we don’t get it; and I find it reassuring that even Jesus took intentional steps to be with his disciples and with the Father in quiet and solitude (Mark 6: 30-31).
This past month was especially meaningful as Lisa and I first traveled to Minneapolis to support Kaitlin in a volleyball tournament; followed by some very special time in Costa Rica celebrating Lisa’s mother’s 80th birthday. Next month, we’ll have the opportunity to celebrate my mother and father’s big birthdays as well…another very special reunion of the Craig side of the family.
This year I was especially aware of how my enjoyment on vacation is made possible by the hard work of others. I’m thinking of the Uber driver that shuttled us to and from the airport, the TSA agent who made sure my insulin pump was just an insulin pump, the dedicated flight crew, the guy who picked us up in San José, and drove us three hours to our Air B&B in Quepos, the expert jungle guide who pointed out the sloth, and then warned us not to step on that poisonous frog, or the guys who made my mother-in-law feel safe as she was zipping along a wire 100 feet in the air. You get the idea.
One fellow who was driving us to a remote location asked me to join him in the front seat of his van. His name was Joél and as I climbed in, instantly spotted his well-worn Bible lying beside him on the seat. I had to give a “complemento” when I saw that Bible; and soon we had that serendipitous feeling when two strangers – despite the barriers of distance, language and culture – suddenly discover they are family in Jesus. Joél soon introduced me to another man on his team that was also a believer, and the family feeling grew. Personal stuff was shared as we walked through a rainforest, and genuine caring was expressed. At day’s end I conveyed my gratitude to Joél for his excellent work in some tangible ways. Then, we exchanged bear hugs and expressed our gratitude to God as we said goodbye. It may sound cliché, but we really did sense that our brief meeting was just the beginning of a long friendship.
For whether you labor long hours or are on vacation right now, remember that Jesus’ victory means that we who trust in Him shall see the Day when we can run and not be weary, walk and not faint; a day of rest, renewal, and joyous reunion, an eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom, a day that will beat any vacation here on earth! In the meantime, let’s find tangible ways to bless and encourage those who are weary from their labors, find intentional ways to embrace Sabbath rest, and encourage one another with the promise of Scripture saying, “Hallelujah….a Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God” (Hebrews 4: 9)! Hope to see you soon…