Are vacations godly? Are they biblical? I think so. I hope so since I’ve got a couple of weeks away scheduled for this summer. As far as I could discover, the word ‘vacation’ isn’t in the Bible, not even in the Greek or Hebrew. Not even in The Message.
Of course, you might argue that life was much slower in Bible days and people didn’t need a break like we do today. Normal life for us certainly is full. Our schedules are full, our text and email folders are full, many people are at full capacity for relationships (even our best, most rewarding friendships carry expectations), and far too often, our stress-tanks are full. Emotional, relational, and spiritual health demands that we take a break and get away from ‘normal’ life for a while.
Far from driving his disciples to that kind of fullness, Jesus encouraged them to take a break on occasion. “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while,” he said to them after an extraordinarily busy day of meeting people’s needs (Mark 6:31). Sounds like a vacation to me. Someone has interpreted that invitation as, “Come apart for a while… so that you don’t come apart permanently.” And Jesus himself seems to have gone on frequent, solitary overnighters to get away from the expectations of the crowds.
Jesus’ invitation to his disciples and his own practice of ‘overnighters’ were intended to be a break from normal life, but not from spiritual life. In fact, they seem to have been times intended for enhanced spiritual life. Jesus wanted his disciples to go off to a quiet place alone…with him. And his solitary overnighters were not solitary. He spent them in prayer with his father.
So yes, vacations can be godly, and there is good biblical precedence. If you are at all able to “go off to a quiet place and rest,” do so. But if all you can manage this summer is a staycation for a few days, then do that. Take a break from normal life and let your stress-tanks drain. But don’t take a break from Jesus. Take the opportunity to spend more time with him than in your normal life. After a spiritually-enhanced vacation, you will find yourself better rested and less stressed than if your vacation is spiritually-deficit. Try it and let me know what happens.