I used to say that annual leave was not biblical… Until I realized how wrong I was.
Taking time out can be a bit like climbing a mountain. It actually takes effort to stop and reflect. It is so easy to bounce along with life, moving from one major life event to another, without ever taking the time to work out if you are headed in the right direction.
I still remember our hike to Grassi Lakes near Canmore in Alberta. They were called Grassi lakes not because there was grass there, but after the Italian guy who blazed the trail. About 200m into the walk there was a fork in the road, one path was the easy way and one path was the difficult route.
This is not some metaphor about the road less travelled… We chose the easy path, which ended up being a good idea because we quickly discovered just how unfit we were.
There is something about standing on top of a mountain and surveying the place where you are staying that helps put things into context.
I happened to be listening to a Harvard Business Review podcast at the time in which author Anne-Marie Slaughter spoke about the fact that failing to take time off can mean the difference between spending your life reacting and out of control, or spending your life with the ability to make choices.
In addition to the weekly Sabbath, the Jewish people had divinely prescribed annual holidays that not only interrupted their work, but reminded them who they were. In addition to being holidays they were commemorations, some of which lasted for a number of days. I wrote about some of this 6 years ago (here).
I am currently writing a series of reflections on my other site (KingdomCells.org) about what it means to put the insights from my book, 6 Radical Decisions, into practise.
Part of the reason I have been writing the series of reflections at KingdomCells.org is that I have been doing what the Israelites would do. I have been revisiting the story that brought me here, getting a sense of where I am and getting my bearings for the journey forward.
This holiday has been an important one for us. It feels as though it is coming at the end of one phase of our lives. We have now been in Canada for almost four years, and much of that time has been about adjusting to new realities both in terms of country, but also in education and where I work. For the first time in four years it feels like there is a little space to now take a breath and evaluate where we have come from and where we are going.
Getting away has been an essential part of that process. It has been nice to spend time with Leeanne and the girls (this has been the first family holiday without the boys which has been a bit strange). It has also been important to have the space to be thinking, praying and processing.
I appreciate Stanley Grenz’s insight that:
Our sense of personal identity develops as we tell our narrative, that story in which the various threads of our lives come together in a unified, meaningful whole. The personal narrative lies at the basis of a person’s sense of who he or she is. Consequently, finding ourselves means, among other things, finding the story in the context of which our lives make sense.
Getting time away helps to re-group and take stock of my personal story. It helps me realise both how far I have come and also how far I am yet to go.
Like the Israelites who needed to take regular holidays to recount their journey with God, I am seeing that I too need to make sure my year has regular rhythms of rest and perspective seeking.
One of the core insights of my book is that everyone has a God given calling. One of the other insights of the book is that the church is still on a journey to reognize this fact, and that many Christians are living lives that “go with the flow” rather than stepping into the unique plan that God has for their lives.