VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post
Going on holiday what must you not forget to pack?? pants? toothbrush? God?
How about a staycation, think easy meals, friends over, allow kids to watch films and stay up late, structured quiet times?
I understand this might just me be but I have realised over the last few years that I have been treating God like another term time activity one I can take a break from during the holidays. As ever I have realised that what I know to be true and what I say to others is not lived out in my actions.
Is it that I think my discipleship is something to pick up and put down when convenient or is that my vision of God does not include a God of the holidays? Or more worryingly, am I stuck with an image of an overbearing, strict, task focused, joy hating Father God for whom I have to earn my salvation by performing a strict task list, so occasionally I need a break from Him?
Why do I believe that God is with me when I am studying and preparing life group studies but He is not interested in me sitting outside in the sunshine chatting to the kids?
Why do I feel that “Christian stuff” bible reading, meeting up with people, praying is such a chore I need a holiday from it?
As with most problems in Christian living it all stems from a misunderstanding of who God is. Our God is a great big God (to quote a well known song!) which means he is at the beach with you whether you packed him or not! As we saw in John, Jesus had a beach barbecue! God is for us not against us. He does not hand out annual leave and then count the hours to make sure you don’t enjoy yourself too much.
When you are out enjoying nature in the sunshine He is with with you surveying all he has made and saying it is good, it is a glimpse of what is to come when all creation is renewed. The sunburn we may experience is a sign of the fallen nature of this world but we can have certain hope that God will renew his creation, then we can enjoy the sunshine without burning or having to wear sunscreen (at least that is my prayer).
Life has different rhythms and it might be right for life groups or bible studies to have breaks for holidays but what I need to remember is that this doesn’t mean I just put God on the shelf until it starts up again. I should use the time differently, praying whilst out walking and splashing in the waves or even praising God whilst I have a lie in.
Sometimes it is not a break but a change which can help you renew your sense of God and help you come back to your first love. This summer we were able to go to St Davids Cathedral and join in a bilingual communion service. Hearing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God almighty who was and is and is to come” sang in Welsh in such a magnificent space was so different to our usual Sunday mornings; so out of my comfort zone that it jolted me into a new awareness of the awesomeness and majesty of God and refreshed my soul.
So you don’t need to pack God as He is already there but do be ready to see Him at work.