What I Learned On My Summer Vacation


I hope the title of this post does not spark fear in students, parents, and teachers who are enjoying their summer vacation and want nothing to do with the three R's, Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

Back in the day, the return to school brought a necessary essay: "What I Did On My Summer Vacation." My memories of the words I wrote are now as faded as this second grade picture. I could have penned stories from the adventurous (visiting the Grand Canyon) to the ridiculous (dirt bomb fights across the canal).

While I graduated from school long ago, I am still a chronicler of the events of my life. But at 52, I am spending a lot more time reflecting on the lessons I am learning from those events.

Shannan and I recently returned from the Hot Rod Power Tour and the Hot Days At The Arkansas Lake Tour, a.k.a. our family vacation. We had a blast, but I came back out of gas -- physically and spiritually.

I know, that is not supposed to happen. For years, I have taught students the importance of "self-leadership."

This trip, I led myself poorly. Rather than coming back close to the Lord, I felt a bit like a distant friend. So, in the spirit of "iron sharpening iron" I want to share three lessons I learned about rest, the kind that refills the tank physically, emotionally, AND spiritually:

  1. There is a big difference between diversion and rest. Over the last few weeks we have traveled 5500 miles by car and another 2000 by air. We've enjoyed drag racing, auto-cross racing, boating, skiing, car shows, movie nights with our kids, family reunions . . . and I'm just getting started. It has been a WONDERFUL diversion from the norm, but diversion does not mean rest. All of our activities have left little time to stop, worship, read God's Word, and pray. Lesson learned: I must schedule rest!
  2. I can't do it all and rest. Country artist Terry Clark sings a song, I Wanna Do It All. That's me. I want to drive leisurely through back roads and small towns and still show up at the drag strip to lay down my best time. I want to enjoy long days with lots of family and still embrace peace and solitude.  I want to take long walks, read good books, play with grand kids, water ski, hunt for old cars, take pictures . . . I wanna do it all! That is just not possible if doing it all means not getting the rest that restores my soul. Life is full of trade-offs. Lesson learned: I must trade away activity for rest.
  3. Pace + Place + Plan = Rest.  Shannan and I lived out of duffel bags for 17 days. We spent time in six hotels, one guest bedroom, and a week on the floor of the lake house. We drove thousands of miles, including one all-nighter. My pace was too fast. There was no place to get alone and get quiet. My plan hoped for, but did not plan for, enough quiet time with God. Lesson learned: I must schedule a pace, place, and plan for rest.

It was great to get away, but it is even better to be home. I'm settling back into rhythms that have served me well over the years. That being said, my spiritual edge got a little dull during my recent trip. I hope the lessons I've learned help you keep your edge sharp.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 ESV