It’s that time of year again. Time to decide how to spend our holidays. Now I’m retired, I have the privilege of taking a break when I feel like it. Sometimes it’s just a day out, or a weekend; as usual this spring I shall join my fellow bell-ringers for a weekend away – this year in Warwickshire – to try out other bells than those at our home tower. But once a year I try to arrange a proper holiday: a week or so at a particular place I haven’t been to before.
How do you make your choice? Do you simply want to relax on a beach in the sun? Or maybe you prefer an action holiday, walking, or pony-trekking or, like me, following a favourite hobby. Do you go for the cheapest available, or filter quality facilities or an unfulfilled ambition into your decision-making process?
Long ago I read the claim that the only Bible verse with a holiday theme is “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). It was used to publicise formal retreats and, for some, this may be the ideal break: a chance for spiritual refreshment. But what else does the Bible offer that we can relate in a general sense to holidays?
The Psalms often provide us with words we can use to express to God our deep personal feelings, our emotions and frustrations with the life around us. I’d like to share with you some verses from them that might be relevant, if not to an actual holiday, at least to the general aims of a break from daily life: rest, restoration and refreshment.
Sleep is always important, but in troubled times it doesn’t come easily. We are reminded of the assurance that answered prayer can bring peace: “I call out to the Lord and he answers me … I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.” (Ps.3:4-5). God “refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” (Ps.23:3).
There are times in life when disaster or tragedy strikes. I like the way the NET Bible puts these verses. “I was in serious trouble and He delivered me. Rest once more, my soul, for the Lord has vindicated you.” (Ps.116:6-7). God is always ready to listen to our prayers, and answers each prayer to give us of His best.
And of course, most holidays involve at least some travel. God is with us on the road, while afloat, in the air or aboard the coach: “You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.” (PS 139:3).
God never takes a holiday in the way we do; He’s always there when we choose to listen to Him. Don’t forget to add your Bible to your packing list this year … or maybe download one of the many available Bible apps for your phone!